Elon Musk will technically become the richest person on Earth next month, when his space rival and actual richest person on Earth will fly into space aboard Blue Origin's first-ever human flight.
On July 20, the space company plans to send passengers more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth's surface onboard reusable suborbital rocket system New Shepard. The 10 minute flight will see the crew accelerate to over 3 Gs, before the capsule detaches. At this point, they can unbuckle and feel the effects of weightlessness, before rebuckling for reentry into the Earth's atmosphere three minutes later. Passengers will land in the West Texas desert with assistance from a parachute deployed by the capsule, where they will be met by a landing crew.
One seat on the capsule is being auctioned off by Blue Origin, with the highest bid (at time of writing) at $3,500,000. Proceeds will go towards Blue Origin’s foundation Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM.
The winner of the auction will join Bezos and his brother on the first flight of New Shepard, named after the second human (and first American) in space. Bezos surprised his brother with an invite aboard the rocket, in a video he recorded for an Instagram announcement.
"Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space," he wrote on Instagram. "On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend."
Bezos stepped down as chief executive officer (CEO) of Amazon earlier this year, in order to focus on spaceflight company Blue Origin as well as other charitable initiatives. His last day at the company will come 15 days before he heads to space. This prompted many jokes on the Internet about him fleeing the Earth.
In his announcement video, Bezos went a little more into why he wanted to be aboard Blue Origin's first crewed flight.
"To see the Earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity. It's one Earth," Bezos said, adding, “I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I've wanted to do all my life. It’s an adventure. It’s a big deal for me."
He invited his brother, who he describes as his best friend, because he thought it would be "meaningful" to have him there.
"I wasn't even expecting [Jeff] to be there on the first flight," his brother said in the video. "And then when he asked me, I was just awestruck. What a remarkable opportunity."
Richard Branson is set to fly to space aboard his rival Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo later this year, though there are rumors he is moving ahead with plans to launch early, following Bezos' announcement.