Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos' spacecraft New Shepard is right on schedule and will be launched on Tuesday. On Sunday, Blue Origin, the space company founded by Bezos in 2000, cleared its spacecraft to launch the company's first astronaut flight, NS-16. The mission will carry billionaire Jeff Bezos and three others into suborbital space and back.
The mission is set to fly at 9:00 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on Tuesday, which is interestingly the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
During the pre-launch press conference, Blue Origin lead flight director Steve Lanius said: "We've looked at all the vehicle systems, including hardware, software, procedures, and launch crew readiness. We are not currently working any open issues, and New Shepard is ready to fly."
"There's a slight chance of rain and thunderstorms in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but conditions are expected to be good by launch time," Lanius told the reporters.
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The crew includes Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, Blue Origin's first paying customer. On Monday, the crew will undergo their 14-hour astronaut training regimen that includes classroom instruction and practice in a test capsule, among other tasks and exams today, and will wrap it up by tomorrow, as per media reports.
The Amazon founder will become the second billionaire to reach suborbital space in less than two weeks. Last week, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson flew to the final frontier on the first fully crewed flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane.
Moreover, Funk, 82, and Daemon, 18, will set new records for the oldest and youngest people in space after the launch.
Earlier this year, the company had held a public auction for a seat on the flight, which was won by an anonymous bidder for $28 million. However, five days before the launch Blue Origin announced that the auction winner had withdrawn from the mission.