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Blue Origin eyes a date for the sale of tourist spaceflight tickets

A trip to space on the New Shepard will set you back at least $200,000

Apogee 351,000 Feet

There are rich folks around the world right now with an eye on the ride of a lifetime with Blue Origin, the space tourism company led by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. But to be at the front of the line, they need to buy a ticket the moment they become available. And that will cost more than a pretty penny. According to Reuters, a ride on the New Shepard space shuttle will go for somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000.

Blue Origin is slated to start selling seats for its suborbital space trips as early as next year. Rob Meyerson, vice president at Blue Origin, revealed the tidbit during a recent presentation, Space News reported.

He added that the company also plans to begin flying its first test crews “soon,” though he didn’t offer a more specific time frame. Blue Origin completed its most recent and impressive test flight to date in April, reaching heights of 351,000 feet above Earth’s surface.

While the $200,000 to $300,000 price frame is certainly high, it’s not exactly out of the ordinary. Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main competitor in the space tourism race, has already taken around 700 bookings for its suborbital flights, with each one costing $250,000. It hopes to launch its service within the next 12 months. Virgin Galactic said that the growing list of customers means anyone booking a ticket today will more than likely have to wait until at least 2021 before they’ll be able to hop aboard.

Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, said in April that once his team is confident about the safety and stability of the New Shepard rocket and crew capsule, “we’ll have the conversation internally about what prices are and what that whole process looks like.”

Blue Origin’s trip will take up to six passengers at a time to a point about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. As they admire the stunning views, they’ll be permitted to unbelt for several minutes to enjoy floating about in a weightless environment.

“For the suborbital mission, training is going to be relatively simple,” Bezos said in a 2016 interview, adding that he wants people “to be able to get out, float around, do somersaults, enjoy the microgravity, look out of those beautiful windows.”

Blue Origin’s New Shepard has flown eight times so far, with the booster returning safely to terra firma all but one time. The company unveiled a revamped capsule at the end of last year with comfier seats and larger windows than the original design.

Bezos in space?

It’s not clear if Bezos will be aboard Blue Origin’s maiden tourism flight.

“I want to go into space, but I want to do it in Blue Origin vehicles,” the CEO said, adding that while such a trip is a personal ambition, his main aim is to bring down the cost of space access with reusable rocket technology.

If Blue Origin can achieve that, Bezos believes the developing technology will pave the way for “millions” of people to one day live and work in space. “I want us to be a space-faring civilization,” he said.

Updated on July 13: Tickets on the New Shepard will cost between $200,000 and $300,000.

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