Where Is the Blue Origin Launch Site, How Will New Shepard Land After Jeff Bezos' Flight?

On Tuesday, Blue Origin will launch Jeff Bezos, the aerospace company's founder and Amazon executive chairman, into space on a brief mission marking yet another step forward for the space tourism industry.

The rocket company's New Shepard mission will see Bezos, 57, plus a crew of three others reach a height of over 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth.

Bezos will be joined by his brother, Mark Bezos; female aviation trailblazer and space enthusiast Wally Funk; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch teenager whose father is the CEO of a private equity firm.

Liftoff for the mission is currently set for 9 a.m. EDT. It will be Blue Origin's first crewed mission, although the New Shepard rocket has been test-flown 15 times since April 2015.

The crew of four will be strapped into a space capsule attached to the top of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket—a reusable, autonomous single-stage spacecraft designed for short hops to space.

It will launch from Blue Origin's Launch Site One center, which is located in a remote area of desert in the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas.

The company states there are no on-site public viewing areas in the vicinity for people who want to see the launch in person. The nearby State Highway 54 will be closed by state transport officials during the mission.

Once launched, the crew can expect their mission to last just 11 minutes as the rocket ascends to its peak height and releases the capsule into space.

New Shepard will then plummet back to Earth and, like SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, use fins and aero-brakes to slow and control its descent.

Once close enough to the ground, the rocket will fire its single booster to slow itself down to a speed of around five miles per hour for a vertical touchdown.

The capsule will also fall back to Earth after the astronauts inside have enjoyed a short time floating in space.

Its descent will be slowed by parachutes as it aims to make a landing on solid ground back in the West Texas desert.

Just before it touches down, the capsule will fire off some reverse-thrust boosters which will see it hit the ground at a speed of around one mile per hour.

The seats inside have been designed to absorb impact forces if the capsule were to touch down too hard.

The launch comes after competing space tourism firm Virgin Galactic successfully launched its own founder, Richard Branson, on a spaceflight on Sunday 11.

Jeff Bezos talking
Jeff Bezos seen at a Blue Origin event in May 2019. The company founder is due to be launched in the New Shepard flight on July 20. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty