Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants to send its first passengers to space as soon as this year. Bezos spoke during a private event at the Yale Club in New York City, Business Insider reports.
“This year. This is the first time I’ve ever been saying, “this year.” For a few years, I’ve been saying, “next year,” Bezos told Jeff Foust, senior staff writer at Space News, during the event.
The billionaire’s private space tourism company Blue Origins has been making some big strides towards that goal in recent years. Its flagship suborbital vehicle New Shepard reached the so-called Kármán line (62 miles or 100 km), widely agreed to be the edge of outer space, for the first time during a test flight in 2015.
That’s a fair bit higher than Virgin Galactic’s recent efforts to reach space with its SpaceShipTwo space plane, which reached a new maximum altitude of 55.85 miles (89.9 km) yesterday.
“One of the issues that Virgin Galactic will have to address, eventually, is that they are not flying above the Kármán Line, not yet,” Bezos told Space News during a Wednesday luncheon in New York. “I think one of the things they will have to figure out how to get above the Karman Line.”
Blue Origin’s much bigger New Glenn rocket is a far more capable rocket that is supposed to reach low Earth orbit (hundreds to thousands of kilometers above the Kármán line). The company is aiming for a 2021 test flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
But Blue Origin wants to eventually go beyond Earth orbit as well. Their goal is to complete a lunar landing mission before 2023.
READ MORE: Bezos emphasizes altitude advantage of New Shepard over SpaceShipTwo [Space News]
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