On Tuesday, billionaire Jeff Bezos will launch his rocket ship, New Shepard, into space for the first time with a crew.

Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old space pioneer, and an 18-year-old student will accompany him.

They'll travel in a capsule with the largest windows ever flown into space, providing breathtaking views of the planet.

The New Shepard spacecraft, built by Bezos' company Blue Origin, is aimed at the burgeoning space tourism market.

"I'm looking forward to it. People keep asking if I'm frightened. I'm not scared; rather, I'm intrigued. I'm curious as to what we'll learn "In an interview with CBS News, Bezos stated.

"We've been preparing for this. This vehicle is prepared, the crew is prepared, and the team is exceptional. We just have a great feeling about it."

Ms. Funk had this to say: "It will take place! I've waited and dreamed for a long time to be able to go up." She stated that while weightless in space, she would perform somersaults and tumbles.

Ms. Funk was a member of the Mercury 13, a group of women who went through the same screening tests as male astronauts but never got to fly into space.

The four passengers will take off on a rocket from Bezos' private launch site near Van Horn, Texas, at 14:00 BST (09:00 EDT).

Around 76 kilometers (250,000 feet) above sea level, the capsule containing the Bezos brothers, Funk, and student Oliver Daemen separates from its booster. The rocket lands on its "legs" about 2 miles from the launch pad, while the capsule ascends to a height of around 106 kilometers (350,000ft).

"For about four minutes, we're in zero-g, and we get to get out of our seats, unstrap, float around, and look at the thin limb of the Earth's atmosphere," Bezos explained.

"The views will be spectacular, and zero-g will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can't get anywhere else on Earth."

The capsule begins its descent after reaching its maximum altitude, parachuting down to a soft landing in the desert.

The launch is the latest salvo in the "billionaire space race," as it's been dubbed. It comes nine days after Bezos' space tourism rival, Sir Richard Branson, flew his Virgin Galactic space plane high above the Earth.

Sir Richard said it wasn't important for him to beat Bezos when he was interviewed on Stephen Colbert's Late Show last week, and even offered some friendly advice: "Take in the scenery outside - really take it in. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance."

Though the private spaceflight revolution is often billed as an effort to increase access to space for all, seats aboard a Virgin Galactic flight will initially cost $250,000, while the regular ticket price for New Shepard has yet to be announced.

Bezos is the world's richest man, with a net worth of around $200 billion. The 57-year-old recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth he founded, to focus on special projects and his other businesses, including Blue Origin.

Mark Bezos, Bezos' brother, founded an advertising agency and is now a senior vice president at the New York-based charity Robin Hood.

Joes Daemen, the founder of Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners, is the fourth passenger. Oliver had originally reserved a seat on the second flight but was called in to fill in for an anonymous public auction winner.

This unnamed winner had to drop out "due to scheduling conflicts" after paying $28 million (£20 million) to join Bezos on New Shepard's first crewed flight.

Users on social media have criticized Bezos and Branson, claiming that the money spent on space could be better spent on things like combating climate change or aiding the world's recovery from the pandemic.

"I can understand it," Sir Richard responded, "but I think they're not fully educated on what space does for Earth."

"We need more spaceships going up to space, not less," he said, adding that satellites were monitoring "the degradation of the rainforests, monitoring food distribution, even things like climate change."


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