WASHINGTON-Jeff Bezos will charge up to $300,000 for a trip into space with his rocket firm Blue Origin.
The space tourism company, headquartered in Kent, Washington, is looking to sell tickets aboard its rocket for around $200,000 to $300,000, according to sources with knowledge of the plans.
Earlier this year, Blue Origin confirmed the maiden voyage of its six-seater craft will be held in 2018.
Experts believe the ticket price is not high enough to make the space tourism venture profitable, with aerospace analyst Marco Caceres estimating that each launch will lose millions for the firm. The rumoured Blue Origin ticket prices are in line with Sir Richard Branson’s rival company Virgin Galactic, which has already sold 650 tickets priced at $250,000 despite not having a launch date for its space voyages. Blue Origin will fly customers into space using its New Shepard vehicle.
Like those pioneered by SpaceX, the space vehicle will be reusable and is designed to be used for multiple flights.
It will be able to ferry up to six space tourists, researchers and/or experiments on brief suborbital flights.
Blue Origin executives told a business conference last month they planned test flights with passengers on the New Shepard soon, and to start selling tickets next year.
The company, which is based about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle, was started by Amazon founder Bezos in 2000. It has made public the general design of the vehicle – comprising a launch rocket and detachable passenger capsule – but has thus far 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.
Speaking in May, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said ticket prices had not yet been decided.
However, one Blue Origin employee with first-hand knowledge of the pricing plan told Reuters that the company will start selling tickets in the range of about £150,000 to £230,000 ($200,000 to $300,000.)
A second employee confirmed tickets would cost a minimum of $200,000.
Both sources were speaking on a condition of anonymity, since the pricing strategy is highly confidential.
The New Shepard is designed to autonomously fly up to six passengers more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth and into suborbital space. At this altitude, customers will be able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness, as well as seeing the curvature of the Earth.
The capsule will return to the ground under parachutes.
The New Shepard craft features six observation windows, which Blue Origin says are almost three times taller than those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner.
Bezos’ space exploration company has already completed eight test flights of the New Shepard at the company’s Texas launch pad.
The pioneering vehicle uses a vertical take-off and landing, but has yet to carry human passengers.
Two flights have included a test dummy the company calls ‘Mannequin Skywalker.’
The company is hoping to test its capsule escape system in space, ‘within weeks,’ one of the employees said.
This feature is designed to protect the human crew in emergencies by propelling the capsule away from the booster should the rocket explode.