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Jeff Bezos wants to send tourists into space in 2019

“They’ll have a day or two of training,” he said.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos isn’t just focused on selling you everything you’ve ever wanted, or on winning another Emmy.

Bezos, who also runs Blue Origin, a rocket company he called the “most important thing I’m working on,” is also focused on sending people into space on what he called a “tourism mission.”

Bezos wants to launch this mission next year.

“I’m hopeful that that will happen in 2019,” Bezos said Monday when he spoke at the Wired Summit in San Francisco. “I was hopeful it would happen in 2018. I keep telling the team it’s not a race. I want this to be the safest space vehicle in the history of space vehicles.”

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket has a capsule large enough to hold six “paying astronauts,” Bezos said, basically regular tourists with the ready cash for a round-trip ticket to space. (He didn’t say how much it will cost.) Bezos doesn’t even plan to have a Blue Origin employee in the capsule to supervise.

“They’ll have a day or two of training,” Bezos added. “I’m pushing for a day. I don’t think you need two days of training for this.”

It’s an ambitious goal. Rival rocket company SpaceX, run by billionaire Elon Musk, hopes to send a man to the moon by 2023.

Blue Origin isn’t just focused on sending tourists to space. The company also has a new defense contract with the U.S. government to create rockets for satellite launches.

“If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble,” Bezos said. “I know everybody is very conflicted about the current politics in this country. This country is a gem. It is amazing. It’s the best place in the world. It’s the place where people want to come.

“There aren’t other countries where everybody’s trying to get in. I’d let ‘em in if it were up to me. I like ‘em. I want all of them.”

Here’s video of a New Shepard rocket taking off and then landing again back on a launch pad.

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