Wealthy Earthling Jeff Bezos is set to leave his home planet for the first time today aboard Blue Origin’s inaugural manned spaceflight. Takeoff is scheduled for 8:00 am central time (9:00 am ET; 2:00 pm BST), and the whole mission will be available to watch via the live stream on this page.
The webcast is slated to begin 90 minutes before launch time, with the Amazon founder set to climb aboard the New Shepard suborbital rocket system around half an hour prior to departure. Accompanying Bezos will be a crew made up of his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation veteran Wally Funk, and teenager Oliver Daemen, who will become Blue Origin’s first paying passenger.
Launching from a remote site in western Texas, New Shepard will carry its crew beyond the Kármán line, which represents the threshold of space and sits roughly 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the ground. The entire mission will last a mere 11 minutes, with the crew experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness while at the peak of their flight path. A post-flight press conference will then be live-streamed on the Blue Origin site roughly two hours after the capsule touches down.
The world’s richest man, Bezos founded Blue Origin back in 2000 with the aim of transporting tourists to space. Unfortunately for him, he was beaten to the punch earlier this month when rival billionaire Richard Branson reached the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane. However, that flight only reached an altitude of 86 kilometers (53.5 miles), which means that if all goes to plan, Bezos will travel further from the ground than any business tycoon has ever ventured before.
Such a feat will be made possible by New Shepard’s hydrogen-fueled rocket booster, which will propel the crew upwards before detaching from the capsule and returning to the launch site. Bezos and his fellow travelers will then complete the final part of their ascent in the capsule itself, which will then parachute back to Earth once the desired altitude has been attained.