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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is upping the stakes in the space (tourism) race with the announcement that his space flight company Blue Origin will start to sell rocket tickets to private citizens in 2019. The company also won’t begin taking reservations until it’s actually ready to start carrying passengers, which means that the reality of space tourism might be here sooner than we thought.
The news may come as an unpleasant surprise to Elon Musk, whose SpaceX space travel company isn’t projected to take tourists around the moon until 2020. Likewise, despite having sold approximately 700 $250,000 tickets to waiting customers in the past decade, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic remains squarely TBD in the testing phase for its SpaceShipTwo passenger ship.
Blue Origin Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson said at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit last week that the company plans to start flying its first test passengers aboard its New Shepard rocket soon. As of now, all of the New Shepard test flights have been without passengers.
The news comes just a month after Bezos announced his vision to utilize the moon for industrial use within the next century, saying, “But in the not-too-distant future—I’m talking decades, maybe 100 years—it’ll start to be easier to do a lot of the things that we currently do on Earth in space, because we’ll have so much energy.”
Neither announcement will likely go over well with President Donald Trump, who recently made known his own plans for the cosmos with a proposed Space Force and who continues to be locked in an endless peeing race with Bezos due to his ownership of the Washington Post.
As of now, no pricing model has been announced for Blue Origin’s New Shepard flights, but it’s expected to come in lower than SpaceX or Virgin. But it goes without saying that Blue Origin will probably still be too rich for the average citizen’s blood.
You can watch the Blue Origin launch of its New Shepard Rocket below:
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.