$270k for space rides

NT News - - WORLD -

SEAT­TLE: Jeff Be­zos’ rocket com­pany plans to charge pas­sen­gers at least $US200,000 ($A270,000) for its first trips into space next year.

Po­ten­tial cus­tomers and the aero­space in­dus­try have been ea­ger to learn the cost of a ticket on Blue Ori­gin’s New Shep­ard space ve­hi­cle, to find out if it is af­ford­able and whether the com­pany can gen­er­ate enough de­mand to make a profit on space tourism.

Ex­ec­u­tives at the com­pany, started by Ama­zon.com Inc founder Be­zos in 2000, 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, based about 32km 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.

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.

How­ever one Blue Ori­gin em­ployee with first-hand knowl­edge of the pric­ing plan says the com­pany will start sell­ing tickets in the range of $US200,000 to $US300,000 ($A405,000). A se­cond em­ployee has said tickets will cost a min­i­mum of $US200,000 ($A270,000).

The New Shep­ard is de­signed to au­tonomously fly six pas­sen­gers more than 100 km above Earth into sub­or­bital space.

That is 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.

Picture: AFP PHOTOS

Blue Ori­gin’s New Shep­ard booster is head­ing into space next year

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