Jeff Bezos has announced that his private space travel company Blue Origin is planning to begin taking tourists to space in just two years, reports the New York Times. The Amazon founder and CEO made the comments on Tuesday at the first-ever tour of Blue Origin’s Washington state headquarters.
When it comes to space tourism, Elon Musk’s SpaceX gets most of the media attention and public word of mouth, something Bezos hopes to change with opening up Blue Origin’s headquarters to journalists on Tuesday. "We will not be strangers," he told the attendees. He also revealed that Blue Origin's past discretion over its endeavors wasn’t necessarily to be secretive, but to keep expectations under control. "Space is really easy to overhype," he said.
Bezos revealed that tourists could begin taking space flights as soon as 2018, depending how well the next test launch of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard spacecraft goes. In November the New Shepard was the first rocket to take off and land vertically. That feat was followed in January when New Shepard took off and landed virtually a second time—something a SpaceX rocket has yet to do.
Once tourist trips into space do commence, rockets like the New Shepard will carry six paying tourists into space at a time where they will be able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Though Blue Origin hasn’t begun taking deposits yet, Bezos says the company has already received interest from thousands of potential space travelers.
For Bezos, the ability to take tourist flights into space would be a childhood dream come true. The Times says he’s studied and thought about rockets since he was only 5 years old. "I never expected to have the resources to start a space company," Bezos told the Times. "I won a lottery ticket called Amazon.com."