Entrepreneurs

Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin could send tourists to space this year

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, is developing the New Glenn rocket to compete with SpaceX.
Photo courtesy Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, is developing the New Glenn rocket to compete with SpaceX.

The CEO of Jeff Bezos' space company says there is a chance that tourists will be able to travel to space with Blue Origin in 2018.

Bob Smith spoke with CNBC's Morgan Brennan at the 34th Space Symposium at Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tuesday and Brennan asked Smith: "Are you going to be sending space tourists up to the edge of space before this year is out?"

"We hope so," said a cautiously optimistic Smith. "We think we still have that possibility of getting that done this year," he said.

Still, Smith emphasized, "the thing we always want to make sure that we do every time, whether we're talking about step-by-step development or actually operations as well, we're going to go when we're ready — and we want to make sure it's completely safe for our passengers," he said.

At the end of December, Amazon boss and billionaire Bezos shared a video from inside a Blue Origin rocket with a dummy inside — cleverly named Mannequin Skywalker — giving some sense of what it will look like for an individual to travel to space with Blue Origin.

The capsule being developed to take people to space is 530 cubic feet and has room for six, according to the Blue Origin website. The capsule "is large enough for you to float freely and turn weightless somersaults," Bezos' space company says.

The capsule is carried over 100 kilometers above Earth, or more than 62 miles, to space on a rocket and then detaches from the rocket.

"As the main engine cuts off, your capsule will separate from its booster and perfect stillness will surround you. You'll release your harness and experience the freedom of weightlessness," Blue Origin says.

The capsule lands back onto earth slowed by parachutes, the Blue Origin website says.

Space tourists will travel to West Texas two days before their flight to the launch site of the rocket and capsule. The day before their launch, space tourists will go through safety training, mission simulation and instruction on how to move the weightless environment of space, according to the Blue Origin website.

Though the space company has not released pricing, in 2017, Fast Company estimated a Blue Origin trip to space would cost somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 per person per trip.

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