Billionaire Jeff Bezos will blast into space on Tuesday, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard.
He will be accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student.
They will travel in a capsule with the biggest windows flown into space, offering stunning views of the Earth.
New Shepard, built by Bezos’ company Blue Origin, is designed to serve the burgeoning market for space tourism.
“I’m excited. People keep asking me if I’m nervous. I’m not really nervous, I’m curious. I want to know what we’re going to learn,” Bezos said in an interview with CBS News.
“We’ve been training. This vehicle’s ready, this crew is ready, this team is amazing. We just feel really good about it.”
Ms Funk commented: “It’s going to happen! I’ve waited a long time and I’ve dreamed a long time to get to go up.” She said she would carry out somersaults and tumbles while weightless in space.
In the 1960s, Ms Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13, who underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but who never got to fly into space.
The story of Wally Funk and the Mercury 13
At 14:00 BST (09:00 EDT), the four passengers will lift off on a rocket from Bezos’ private launch site near Van Horn, Texas.
The capsule, containing the Bezos brothers, Funk and student Oliver Daemen, separates from its booster around 76km (250,000ft) up. The rocket lands on its “legs” about 2 miles from the launch pad, while the capsule continues upwards to an altitude of around 106km (350,000ft).
“We’re in zero-g for around four minutes, and we get to get out of our seats, unstrap, float around, look at the thin limb of the Earth’s atmosphere,” Bezos told CBS News.
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