Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin announces plans for first space tourist flights in 2018

With SpaceX setting its sights on Mars and beyond, Blue Origin is gearing up to fill the space tourist void as early as 2018.

Jeff Bezos’ private space firm confirmed the tight schedule in the wake of the risky test of the in-flight escape system earlier this month (which went even better than expected, as the rocket actually survived the emergency ejection of the crew capsule). The company plans to start test flights with pilots next year, which is a huge step, before actually sending up paying passengers in 2018.

The company isn’t selling tickets for the 11-minute rides just yet, but Blue Origin has opened up a notification portal (no, it’s not on Amazon) for when they become available. If you do score a ticket, you’ll launch from a site in west Texas after a day of crash-course astronaut training. That’s short, obviously, but Blue Origin plans to cram in a vehicle overview, safety briefings, mission simulation and instructions on how to handle weightlessness without crashing into the walls (or other people). 

One other perk: If you take a flight on the New Shepard in 2018, you’ll be the first to have access to tickets for flights into full Earth orbit on the company’s heavy duty New Glenn rocket in 2019 (or beyond). So yeah, it pays to book ahead.

But how much will it cost? The company hasn’t named the price just yet, but it’s worth noting a comparable pre-order ticket on Virgin Galactic has an asking price of $250,000. No word on where Blue Origin will land, but the best guess is that it will be in that ballpark. 

(Via Fortune, Blue Origin)

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