Blue Origin, billionaire Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, says it is targeting July 20 for its first suborbital sightseeing trip on its New Shepard spacecraft, a landmark moment in a competition to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.
Blue Origin also said it will offer one seat on the first flight to the winning bidder of an online auction, the proceeds of which will be donated to the space firm’s foundation.
“This seat will change how you see the world,” the company said in a statement ahead of a news conference.
Blue Origin did not immediately release eagerly anticipated details on its longer-term ticket pricing strategy, which has been a closely guarded secret inside the company for years.
Reuters reported in 2018 that Blue Origin was planning to charge passengers at least $US200,000 ($A258,036) for the ride, based on an appraisal of rival plans from billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc and other considerations although its thinking may have changed.
Blue Origin teased last week that it would soon begin selling tickets following years of testing and development work that has included delays.
The New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combo is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 100km above earth into suborbital space, high enough to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before the pressurised capsule returns to earth under parachutes.
The capsule features six observation windows Blue Origin says are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing 747 jetliner.
While celebrities and the uber-rich appear to be the core market for space tourist jaunts, at least initially, industry sources expect Blue Origin to include some philanthropic component to its ticket strategy.