Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is thinking of charging passengers on his rocket company Blue Origin about $200,000 to $300,000 for its first trips into space next year, according to a report in Reuters.
Potential customers and the aerospace industry have been keen to know the cost of a ticket on Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle. Interested parties want to find out if it is affordable and whether the company can generate enough demand to make a profit on space tourism.
According to Reuters, executives at the company, started by Amazon.com Inc founder Bezos in 2000, revealed in a business conference last month that they planned test flights with passengers on the New Shepard soon, and will start selling tickets next year.
The company, based about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle, has made public the general design of the vehicle – comprising a launch rocket and detachable passenger capsule – but has been tight-lipped on production status and ticket prices.
Blue Origin representatives did not respond to requests for comment on its programs and pricing strategy. Bezos said in May, ticket prices had not yet been decided, reported Reuters.
The report said, “One Blue Origin employee with first-hand knowledge of the pricing plan said the company will start selling tickets in the range of about $200,000 to $300,000. A second employee said tickets would cost a minimum of $200,000. They both spoke on condition of anonymity as the pricing strategy is confidential.”
According to the company, the New Shepard is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before the pressurised capsule returns to earth under parachutes.
The capsule features six observation windows Blue Origin says are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner.
Blue Origin has completed eight test flights of the vertical take-off and landing New Shepard from its launch pad in Texas, but none with passengers aboard. Two flights have included a test dummy the company calls “Mannequin Skywalker.”
The company will do the first test in space of its capsule escape system, which propels the crew to safety should the booster explode, “within weeks,” one of the employees said, according to Reuters.