Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by billionaire Mr. Jeff Bezos is all set to begin selling tickets for suborbital sightseeing trips on its New Shepard spacecraft, a landmark moment as American companies strive toward a new age of private commercial space travel.
Blue Origin is supposed to reveal information about how to purchase a seat, the date of the first flight, and the ticket price, which has been kept a closely guarded secret inside Blue for years.
According to reports, Blue was expecting to charge passengers at least $200,000 for the ride, based on an analysis of rival proposals from billionaire Mr. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc and other factors, but its plans may have changed since then.
Blue Origin hinted last week that it would start selling tickets soon, following years of testing and production work that has included delays.
Blue’s New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combination is planned to carry six passengers more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to witness a few minutes of weightlessness and see the planet’s curvature before the pressurized capsule returns to Earth under parachutes.
The capsule has six observation windows that are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner, according to Blue Origin.
Although celebrities and the ultra-wealthy tend to be a key market for space tourist jaunts, industry sources expect Blue to include a philanthropic aspect in its ticket strategy, at least initially.
A college science professor and an aerospace data analyst are among a four-person crew for Mr. Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s scheduled launch into orbit later this year, as part of a charity drive billed as the world’s first all-civilian spaceflight.
After the first flight with Mr. Branson on board later this year, Virgin Galactic plans to fly private customers in early 2022.
Its SpaceShipTwo plane is at the heart of its zero-gravity experience, and the company has big plans to offer point-to-point travel between far-flung cities at near-space altitudes.
Virgin says new reservations would cost more than $250,000, although no final pricing has been released. Following Mr. Branson’s trip, sales will reopen.
In 2018, a Blue Origin employee with firsthand knowledge of the pricing strategy stated that the company will begin selling tickets in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.