Bezos ready for blast-off

The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, will fly from a desert site it Texas on an 11-minute trip to...
The world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, will fly from a desert site it Texas on an 11-minute trip to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard. Photo: Reuters (file)
American billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos says he's excited and curious but not very nervous on the eve of taking part in his company Blue Origin's inaugural suborbital flight alongside the oldest and youngest people ever bound for space.

The world's richest person and three crewmates are due to fly from a desert site in West Texas on Tuesday on an 11-minute trip to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard, an 18.3-metre tall and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo.

The flight represents an important milestone in the establishment of the space tourism industry.

Bezos did a round of televised interviews ahead of the launch, set for about 8am (central time) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One facility 32km outside the rural Texas town of Van Horn.

"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," Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc, told the CBS This Morning programme.

"We've been training. This vehicle is ready. This crew is ready. This team is amazing," Bezos said. "We just feel really good about it."

Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos will be joined in the all-civilian crew by 82-year-old pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old , a recent high school graduate set to attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management in September.

Oliver Daemen. Photo: Reuters
Oliver Daemen. Photo: Reuters

Pioneering female aviator Wally Funk. Photo: Reuters
Pioneering female aviator Wally Funk. Photo: Reuters

Daemen is the company's first paying customer. His father heads investment management firm Somerset Capital Partners.

The flight comes nine days after rival Richard Branson, the British billionaire businessman, was aboard his company Virgin Galactic's rocket plane for its pioneering suborbital flight from New Mexico.

Bezos sought to downplay any rivalry with Branson.

"There's one person who was the first person in space. His name was Yuri Gagarin. And that happened a long time ago," Bezos said on the NBC's programme Today, referring to the Soviet cosmonaut who reached space in 1961.

"I think I'm going to be number 570 or something. That's where we're going to be in this list. So this isn't a competition. This is about building a road to space so that future generations can do incredible things in space."

Funk was one of the so-called Mercury 13 group of women who trained to become astronauts for the first US human spaceflight program in the early 1960s.

She passed the same rigorous testing as the Mercury Seven male astronauts in NASA's space programme, though the women were denied the chance to become astronauts because of their gender.

"Back when Wally was part of the Mercury 13, all the testing that she did, she outperformed all of the men," Bezos said on Today.

"And we can confirm at 82 years old, she can still outperform all of the men. We've been doing the training with Wally. She can outrun all of us."

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We're being encouraged to ditch petrol and diesel and move to electric vehicles.

How many cars would it take to produce the same carbon emissions from one 10 minute rocket flight?

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