Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Monday, one day before he and his crew are to fly into space, said he "can't wait" to see if his short trip will change him.
"I can't wait to see what it's going to be like," Bezos told NBC's "Today" co-host Hoda Kotb. "People who go into space say that they come back changed. I can't wait to see what it's going to do to me."
Bezos Tuesday will take part in the launch of a rocket and capsule that have been developed by his private space company, Blue Origin. The launch will be the first with a crew for the company's New Shepard rocket, and if the mission is successful, Bezos will have made history as part of the first unpiloted suborbital flight taken with a civilian crew.
The flight will also make history for having one passenger as the oldest to reach space and for another passenger being its youngest.
The oldest is Wally Funk, 82. She is a former test pilot and one of the women who underwent training as part of the Mercury 13 program in the 1960s to demonstrate that women would be able to meet the standards set for NASA's astronaut corps.
Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, at 18, will be the youngest person to reach space. Bezo's brother Mark will round out the four-person crew.
On Monday, Bezos praised Funk, 82, telling Kotb that she can "still outperform all of the men."
New Shepard will be launched from a site southeast of El Paso a week after Virgin Mobile billionaire Richard Branson's flight to the edge of space, but Bezos said the flights are not a competition, but about "building a road to space, so that future generations can do incredible things in space."
He also responded to critics who say both he and Branson are investing in self-serving travels to space and agreed that there are many problems on Earth that must be addressed.
"They're right," he said. "We need to do both. We need to focus on now and on the future."
Tuesday's launch is for a suborbital flight, meaning the capsule will not orbit around the earth but will instead reach the edge of space, at an altitude of around 65 miles.
The passengers will go through several minutes of weightlessness before the capsule comes back down, under parachutes, and lands again in the Texas desert. The trip is expected to last about 10 minutes.
Blue Origin, meanwhile, is banking on passenger travel and hopes to start operational flights with paying passengers in the near future. The company hasn't announced how much tickets will cost, but they'll likely have six-figure price tags.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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