Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, is geared to launch the Blue Origin rocket on April 29 in preparation to send humans to space.
All is set at the Blue Origin's test facility in Van Horn, Texas as Bezos's New Shepard rocket will hopefully board tourist passengers by the end of the year. The launch is scheduled on Sunday, April 29, at 8:30 a.m. Central Time.
In a tweet, Bezos announced the upcoming test launch, which will be complemented with a live stream video and the details of which will soon follow.
"Launch preparations are underway for New Shepard's 8th test flight, as we continue our progress toward human spaceflight," Bezos tweeted on Friday morning.
In December 2017, Blue Origin successfully launched vertically and had reached nearly 61 miles above sea level before the unmanned Crew Capsule 2.0 landed safely on a soft parachute.
The Crew Capsule was aboard a dummy named Mannequin Skywalker. There is no information yet on the name of the dummy for this Sunday's launch.
In a statement, Bob Smith, Blue Origin CEO, said that they want to ensure a safe landing for the passengers. He added saying that their goal is to take passengers higher than 62 miles and let them experience a few minutes of weightlessness.
Both Bezos's Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX take pride in their mission to build reusable space vehicles. The vertical landing technology allows Blue Origin to reuse both the capsule and the booster.
"With each flight, [they'll] continuously improve the affordability of space exploration and research, opening the space for all," Blue Origin said.
In an interview at the 33rd Space Museum, Bezos said that he funds Blue Origin $1 billion each year through the sale of his Amazon stocks. According to Bezos, his space company is the most important thing that he is doing, adding that he wants to see millions of people working in space and preserving Earth for residential and light industrial purposes.
While New Shepard remains in the testing phase, Blue Origin is also working on another rocket that is said to compete head-to-head with SpaceX's commercial launch contracts.
Like New Shepard, the new rocket is built with reusability in mind. In this case, the rocket offers twice more space for paying passengers. However, New Glenn is not ready until 2020 when it launches in Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Boost In Private Spaceflights
The private spaceflight industry is expected to grow in the coming years especially with the U.S. Congress passing a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration to increase its support to commercial spaceflight activities.
The bill aims to increase the budget allocation for the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation from almost $22.6 million in 2018 to $33 million in 2019 and nearly $76 million by 2023.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 will allow aircraft issued with experimental licenses to be used in spaceflight "support" activities such as training or hardware tests.
However, these space vehicles will have to launch in an FAA-licensed port, and that individuals who will fly will have to provide their informed consent on the risks associated with an experimental license.