$270k for space rides
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.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster is heading into space next year