It’s only weeks until Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos blasts off into space with his brother, Mark, and an unidentified passenger who paid $28 million for a seat on Blue Origin’s, New Shepherd spacecraft.
But in an interview with Fox Business, NASA said it had a message for the billionaires competing in a race to space: it’s not going to be the Wild West for those looking to travel there.
“I’m keeping my eye on it, but they’re going to have to meet the same rigorous physical and psychological examination for any other professional astronaut,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told Fox Business.
“We want the crew that’s already up there on the space station to be safe when they have visitors and you should expect nothing less,” Nelson added.
Competition is rife amongst ultra-wealthy business moguls. The announcement of Bezos’ flight, which is scheduled for July 20, was followed by a report that Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson may try to beat the Amazon founder to space.
Douglas Messier reported on the Virgin news in his space blog Parabolic Arc. The report featured an anonymous source who told Messier that Virgin Galactic plans to fly Branson on a test flight over the July 4 weekend.
Branson’s space company did not deny the claim when asked by Insider.
But traveling beyond Earth is not only the desire of the world’s top billionaires. The ambition is also shared by many civilians, as space travel starts to become more accessible to the general public through the use of competitions.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is among the firms that have created contests to fly civilians to space. Meanwhile, the winner of Discovery Channel’s “Who Wants to Be an Astronaut” is expected to travel to the ISS in 2022.