The six passengers, which include a Blue Origin engineer and five paying customers, are slated to take off aboard their Blue Origin New Shepard capsule Thursday after 9:30 am ET.
Boosted by a 60-foot-tall rocket, they will soar to more than three times the speed of sound, or more than 2,000 miles per hour. Their capsule will vault past the Kárman Line at 100 kilometers (or 62 miles) altitude, which is widely recognized as the altitude at which outer space begins. And at the peak of the flight, they’ll experience a few minutes of weightlessness and, out of their window, sweeping Earthly views.
This flight had been slated to include Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, but he dropped out of the mission after Blue Origin announced a schedule change earlier this month. The company cited the need for additional ground tests on the New Shepard rocket as the reason for the delay.
What it all means
Blue Origin’s goal is to make these suborbital spaceflights a mainstay of pop culture, giving a 10-minute supersonic joyride to invited guests — who thus far have mostly been celebrities — and anyone else who can afford it.
Blue Origin is the first company to begin offering regular suborbital space tourism flights. Its chief competitor, Virgin Galactic, notably had its first crewed flight — which included founder Richard Branson — before Bezos’ flight last July. But Virgin Galactic has yet to follow up that flight with another passenger flight after it later became clear that the company’s space plane had traveled out of its designated flight path. The company now says it’s undergoing unrelated technology upgrades and may return to flight later this year.
Blue Origin did not have specific updates on BE-4 when reached for comment.