What's the first thing a multi-billionaire does after announcing retirement? Go on a quick trip to space, of course. Jeff Bezos, who recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, announced that he and his brother Mark are taking flight as the first passengers of New Shepard, a suborbital rocket system that was produced by Bezos' aerospace company Blue Origin.
On his personal Instagram account, the tech mogul posted a video stating, "Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20, I will take that journey with my brother." The date feels especially significant considering it's the 52nd anniversary of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong's 1969 Apollo moon landing.
Named after the first American to go to space, Alan Shepard, the New Shepard rocket houses up to six astronauts with one of the seats being auctioned off by Blue Origin's online bidding event that ends on June 10. The latest top bid is $2.8 million and the final winner will be announced on June 12.
Many are skeptical of Blue Origin's safety since most modern rockets are highly technical and contain potentially explosive liquid propellants to generate thrust. Blue Origin updated that the New Shepard at its West Texas site has landed fifteen times since 2012 without any issues to the crew capsule on top of the rocket. The top capsule is designed to have space travelers fly vertically with the booster, separate at a set altitude and deploy parachutes that slowly descend before touchdown.
Ticket prices to board the ship are still being calculated, but many experts are estimating that a single seat would cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars for an outer space New Shepard excursion.
In May, Amazon announced Bezos' leave as CEO and Andy Jassy is slated to assume the role in the coming month. At Amazon's annual shareholder meeting he made the statement, "We chose that date because it's sentimental for me, the day Amazon was incorporated in 1994, exactly 27 years ago." Back in February, an email which was directly sent to employees announced that he would, "focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives."