Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, is set to blast off to space Tuesday morning on his company Blue Origin’s first commercial flight.
The Amazon founder, 57, who will be strapped into seat No. 6 next to the hatch, is expected to launch in his New Shepard rocket around 9 a.m. ET from West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos, who paired his spacesuit with a cowboy hat, rang a ceremonial bell before climbing into the capsule to prepare for takeoff, followed by his 53-year-old younger brother, Mark Bezos, whom he invited on the trip.
He was also joined by an 18-year-old recent high school graduate from the Netherlands, Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old space pioneer from Texas, Wally Funk — who are set to become the youngest and oldest to ever soar into space.
The crew rolled up to the launch pad in an electric truck built by Rivian, high-fiving bystanders along the way — then climbed the stairs to the top of the rocket.
As they strapped into their seats, Funk could be seen waving to bystanders, while Mark flashed a thumb’s up.
“Wally! Push the button!” one of the crew members could be heard saying to Funk during a check with the communications team.
Christina Bezos also shared a message to her two space-bound brothers ahead of the flight.
“Steve and I are so excited for this moumental launch. Jeff, this is something you’ve dreamed of your whole life and your passion for space is infectious. Mark, you’re the best champion in encouraging us in our adventures … Now hurry up and get your asses back down here so I can give you a huge hug. We love you and Godspeed New Shepard,” said the note, which was read aloud from the control room.
Blue Origin’s fully automated rocket is expected to take them to an altitude of roughly 66 miles, hurtling at speeds upwards of 2,200 miles per hour.
Once the capsule separates from its reusable booster, the crew will be able to unstrap for a few minutes of weightlessness.
The rocket cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft and will have none of the company’s staff astronauts or trained personnel on the flight.
The mission, which is expected to last around 10 minutes from start to landing, will get underway at the company’s facilities in the desert town of Van Horn.
About two hours before liftoff, Blue Origin tweeted that New Shepard was “on the pad” and ready to go.
“The launch team completed vehicle rollout this morning and final preparations are underway,” the post said.
Bezos will be the second in the “billionaire space race” to take off in his own rocket, following Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s flight on July 11.
His mission, however, is due to take him more than 10 miles higher than Branson’s flight from New Mexico.
New Shepard rockets have taken 15 successful test flights to space — without people on board — since 2015.
If the mission is a success, the company will host two more passenger flights by the end of the year.