20:45 GMT24 July 2021
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    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, completed training on Monday for Blue Origin NS-16, a suborbital spaceflight slated to launch on Tuesday. Bezos will be joined on his company's historic launch by younger brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old aviation icon Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

    During a Monday interview with CNN, Bezos took time to respond to critics who have asserted that he and Virgin founder Richard Branson, who recently completed the 22nd flight test for the VSS Unity, are turning space travel into "joyrides for the wealthy." 

    "There has been a chorus of critics saying that these flights to space are just joy rides for the wealthy, and that you should be spending your time and your money and energy trying to solve problems here on Earth," CNN's Rachael Crane said to Bezos and his crew, some 24 hours before the NS-16 launch. 

    "So what do you say to those critics?" she asked, to which Bezos replied that "they're largely right." 

    "We have lots of problems in the here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We’ve always done that as a species, as a civilization," he told CNN. "We have to do both." 

    The Blue Origin founder went on to declare that if those on Earth can "get really god at operational space travel" then folks can build "a road to space for the next generation to do amazing things there." 

    "And those amazing things will solve problems here on Earth," he floated. 

    Bezos and his crew, which includes his younger brother and Blue Origin's first paying customer, is set to depart Earth at 9 a.m. ET on July 20.

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    Blue Origin, Amazon, Jeff Bezos
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