News & Politics

Jeff Bezos Rocket Launch: What You Need to Know

What time, who's going with him, how you can watch it.

Photograph courtesy Blue Origin.

Jeff Bezos will fly into space on Tuesday, July 20. It’s the first crewed spaceflight aboard for Blue Origin, his private rocket company, and it’s planned to take place a little more than a week after Bezos’s fellow billionaire Richard Branson rode a supersonic plane to the edge of space. Here’s what to know about the launch:

When is it planned?

Liftoff for New Shepard, Blue Origin’s rocket, is scheduled for 9 AM EDT on Tuesday. If the date sounds familiar to you, July 20 is the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11 astronauts landing on the Moon.

Where will it take off from?

The rocket will ascend from a desert location near Van Horn, Texas. Just in case you’re thinking of moseying on down to watch in person, Blue Origin notes that it won’t provide public viewing and that the state of Texas will close down Highway 54 near the launch site and won’t allow anyone on the closed portion of the road.

Who will be on board?

Bezos, who has lately chosen to commemorate his space pursuits by wearing a cowboy hat, will be joined by his brother Mark on the expedition. Also on board for this flight: Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who was repeatedly passed over for opportunities to fly to space during her career despite demonstrating she could meet all of NASA’s requirements, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student whose father is the founder of a private equity firm. Daemen was scheduled to fly on the second manned Blue Origin flight but got moved up after the still-unidentified winner of an auction for this flight apparently had other plans Tuesday.

 

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How long will the flight last?

The entire flight will take 10-12 minutes. Its passengers will achieve zero gravity at about the three-minute mark.

How can I watch?

Blue Origin will live-stream the launch on its website beginning at 7:30 AM EDT Tuesday. It will also be covered on the website of the Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

Bezos has stepped down from running Amazon. Does the Washington Post have contingency plans in place just in case?

Firstly, remember that while this is Blue Origin’s first flight with humans aboard, New Shepard has made 15 uncrewed flights in the last six years and says the flights are extremely safe. As to the Post, a spokesperson says, “We won’t be providing a comment on this one.” Earlier today, Bezos told CBS’s Gayle King, “People keep asking if I’m nervous. I’m not really nervous, I’m excited. I’m curious. I want to know what we’re going to learn.”

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.