Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet, is preparing for a rocket-powered, 11-minute 2,300-mph excursion to the edge of space, capping off a month filled with rocket news and a bit of drama among the world’s richest people who are dedicating large portions of their wealth to rocket development.
He’ll be flying aboard New Shepard, a suborbital capsule and rocket system built by his space company Blue Origin. He’s also bringing along a few guests on this inaugural journey — his brother, Mark Bezos; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women; and an 18-year old recent high school graduate named Oliver Daemen, who will be the first paying customer aboard New Shepard.
The excursion, which will last about 11 minutes from takeoff to landing, will kick off from Blue Origin’s facilities at an extremely remote plot of land near Van Horn, Texas, which is about two hours from El Paso, on Tuesday July 20 at 8 a.m. CT or 9 a.m. ET, weather permitting.
The public will be able to watch the whole thing go down on Blue Origin’s livestream, where it will show exterior shots of the rocket and capsule shooting up toward the cosmos. (Shots of the interior — and Bezos’ facial expressions — won’t be released until after the flight.) The missions is expected to kick off Tuesday after 8 am ET, weather permitting.
CNN Business will be sharing the livestream and running a live blog with updates.
Blue Origin is also expected to host a post-flight press briefing with Bezos and his fellow passengers.
Here’s a breakdown of all the important moments of the day (Note: T- indicates “time before liftoff.” If all goes to plan, “T” will be 9 a.m. ET. If there are weather delays, the timeline below will hold, but the “T” will change.):
- T-90 minutes: Webcast begins
- T-45 minutes: Astronauts leave Blue Origin’s Astronaut Training Center for the launch pad
- T-30 minutes: Astronauts climb the launch tower. If all is “go,” they will climb aboard the crew capsule
- T-24 minutes: Hatch on the New Shepard crew capsule will close
- T0: Liftoff
- T+ 3 minutes (approximately): Capsule surpasses 62 miles in altitude, a widely recognized boundary of outer space
- T+ 4 minutes (approximately): The capsule reaches the top of its flight path and the passengers spend a few minutes in weightlessness
- T+8 minutes: New Shepard rocket booster lands on a nearby ground pad
- T+11 minutes: New Shepard crew capsule, with parachutes deployed, lands nearby
- T+22 minutes: Hatch opens and astronauts disembark
- T+30 minutes: Webcast concludes
- T+ 2 hours (approximately): Press conference with Bezos and other astronauts begins