Pete Buttigieg Says He'd Take Bezos or Branson Space Flight, But It's Beyond His Budget

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he would join Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson's space tourism flights "in a heartbeat," but the cost is outside of his budget.

Buttigieg said he was excited to see Bezos' blast-off on Tuesday, and felt space tourism is a clear trend for the future. He added he would love to make the trip but doesn't see it happening.

"I would go up in a heartbeat. I think it's such exciting stuff," Buttigieg told the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. "I don't think the airfare, or spacefare, whatever you would call it, is going to be in my budget anytime soon.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Pete Buttigieg
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Tuesday he would like to make the trip to space but the cost is outside of his budget. Above, Buttigieg holds a press conference during a visit to a Southside transportation hub on July 16, 2021, in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Bezos, the founder of Amazon, made the trip on his rocket company Blue Origin's first flight, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft. Bezos held a multimillion-dollar auction for a seat on the flight.

Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 reservations for space flights at $250,000 apiece after its founder Branson was the first to blast off earlier this month in the race for space tourist dollars.

Even with his personal enthusiasm, Buttigieg said Tuesday that the federal government will face challenges in the years ahead ensuring the safety of space passengers and the wider public, a task that lies with his department's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

"I think there will be a lot more where this came from," he said. "Everybody understands it will be a while before we're at the level of commercial air travel where you should have 100 percent expectation of safety onboard. But whatever risks those early travelers decide they're going to take on, we have got to make sure there is no risk to people on the ground and in the airspace.

"It's very exciting, but one of many things across the 2020s we're going to grow into, because we weren't just designed for a lot of private space travel."

Bezos Mural
A mural by Fernandezgraphics of Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is seen on the wall of a building Tuesday in Van Horn, Texas. Bezos blasted into space on his rocket company’s first flight with passengers. Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP