A flight to space is a dream that’s out of the budget of most people, but a new initiative from the founder of Amazon could help make it a reality.
The richest man on Earth is using part of his vast fortune to fund space exploration for tourists, making it more accessible by lowering the price tag.
Jeff Bezos is bankrolling Blue Origin through sales of his stock in the online retail firm he set up, and hopes to subsidise the price of future flights in its reusable rockets.
Bezos and Blue Origin are competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to be the first to send commercial passengers into space.
Bezos was speaking on Saturday night at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner in New York.
He was accepting the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award at the extravagant dinner where the rich and famous guests dined on iguana, cockroach and tarantula delicacies.
Bloomberg reports that in his acceptance speech, Bezos said: ‘The price of admission to space is very high.
‘I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the solar system.’
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
That could soon increase, as the battle to send tourists into space and to the moon and Mars heats up between the three billionaires.
Bezos has varied business interests and his empire should provide enough money to finance the space venture with ease.
The entrepreneur, who owns Whole Foods, The Washington Post, Twitch and IMDB as well as online retailer, recently became the richest man in the world – with a net worth of around $131 billion (£91.3 billion).
According to Bloomberg’s billionaire tracker, that makes the Amazon founder and ex-Wall Street trader richer than nearly two thirds of the countries in the world.
Bezos is believed to be the richest man to have ever lived and has more money than the countries of Estonia, Tunisia, Iceland and Jamaica combined.
Although indicating he may increase his financing of the Blue Origin project, he later declined to clarify just how much of his fortune he’ll spend on space travel.
At Saturday’s event, Dr James Watson, who co-discovered the structure of DNA, advised Bezos to spend just a quarter of his money on space exploration.
Watson joked that ‘we’ve got to fix the potholes’ and look after the needs of our own planet, as well as looking to the stars.
With motivation to explore other territories and planets in the solar system, Bezos says he loves this planet too.
‘We have sent a lot of probes to every planet in this solar system. Believe me, this is the best one,’ he said.
‘The world that we live on is an absolute gem.’
The idea of space as a backup if Earth is destroyed is ‘unmotivating,’ he added.
‘I want a world for my grandchildren’s grandchildren to live in,’ Bezos said.
‘I also want a dynamic world, a world that is expanding and growing. I do not believe in stasis. And this planet is finite.’