Picture: MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES
Picture: MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

Jeff Bezos will go to space next month when his company, Blue Origin, launches its first passenger-carrying mission.

The 57-year-old, who plans to travel alongside his brother, Mark, made the announcement in an Instagram post on Monday. The scheduled launch next month will be about two weeks after the billionaire plans to step down as CEO of Amazon.com.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of travelling to space,” Bezos said in the post. “On July 20, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Blue Origin is one of several high-profile space tourism companies backed by a wealthy entrepreneur, alongside Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic Holdings. Both of those companies are making plans to carry paying customers.

Blue Origin is auctioning off a seat on its New Shepard rocket for the July 20 flight, an 11-minute trip to suborbital space that will reach an altitude of about 100km. The spot will be the only one available for purchase on the flight, and the proceeds will go to a Blue Origin foundation that promotes maths and science education.

The high bid stood at $3.5m on Tuesday,  according to the company’s website. Bidding will end on June 12 with a live online auction. It will be Blue Origin’s 16th flight.

The company has said that customers will have a four-day experience, including three days of preflight training at the company’s launch site near Van Horn, Texas. Blue Origin has built accommodation, including a cafeteria.

Branson plans to fly on a Virgin Galactic flight to suborbital space, perhaps as early as this summer. The timing of that launch had been in doubt after several test failures and got back on track last month with a successful flight to space carrying two pilots.

John Glenn was the oldest person to fly in space, at 77, when he hitched a ride aboard a space shuttle as a US senator in 1998. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, as a Nasa astronaut in 1962.

Bezos plans to hand the reins as Amazon’s CEO to Andy Jassy on July 5.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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