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06/07/2021

How does Jeff Bezos follow up founding Amazon? Going into space

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may soon be stepping down as CEO, but he isn’t done making bold moves.

In a brief Instagram post and video, Bezos announced he and his brother Mark will be passengers on the first manned flight launched by Blue Origin, the spaceflight services company he founded in 2000 and wholly owns. The flight by Blue Origin’s space vehicle New Shepard, a vertical rocket that carries a capsule just past the Earth’s atmosphere for a brief trip into outer space, is scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos said in the post. “On July 20, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

The trip will also include the winner of a public auction for a seat. As of Monday, June 7, CNBC reported bidding had reached $2.8 million. CNBC also reports New Shepard has flown more than 12 successful test flights without passengers. 

Bezos will step down as CEO of Amazon on July 5, at which point Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will take the chief executive reins. Bezos announced the move in February 2021, saying that Amazon is currently at its "most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition." 

Bezos, who will stay on as executive chair of the e-tail giant, made a statement in a blog post at the time that may have portended his latest announcement.

“As exec chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions,” he wrote. “I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”