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You Could Travel To Space As Soon As 2018

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/03/2016 Casey Williams
BLUE ORIGIN JEFF BEZOS NEW SHEPHERD © Blue Origin BLUE ORIGIN JEFF BEZOS NEW SHEPHERD

If you're itching for a spot on a private space flight, you might soon have several options to choose from.

Jeff Bezos announced Tuesday that his commercial space venture, Blue Origin, would launch a suborbital test flight with human passengers in 2017. If all goes well, the company could start selling tickets for short suborbital trips as soon as 2018, reports The New York Times.

The move indicates Bezos' ambition to catch up with rival companies Space X and Virgin Galactic, which also hope to send paying customers to space in the near future. 

"I only pursue things that I am passionate about," Bezos, who is also the CEO of Amazon.com, said during a media tour of Blue Origin's Seattle-based research and development site. The event was Blue Origin's first time opening its doors to the press. 

Although Bezos said that thousands of people have expressed interest in buying spots on a suborbital flight, the company hasn’t begun selling tickets, according to CBS. Nor has Bezos said how much those tickets would cost.

Founded in 2000, Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed two unmanned spacecrafts. The 2017 test will be the first with people on board, per the Associated Press.

Bezos has invested billions in Blue Origin, which employs 600 people.

Here's a video of Blue Origin's second successful launch-and-land test, conducted in Jnauary:

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recently expressed his excitement about the possibility of private companies offering regular people an easy way to visit space.

“I think everyone should be able to go to space,” Kelly said at a news conference last week after returning from a nearly year-long stint aboard the International Space Station. “Maybe in the next 20 years, you’ll be able to just buy a cheap ticket, go for a little visit.”

The emerging commercial space industry has been dogged by setbacks, however.

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic was forced to roll out a new ship last month, nearly two years after the company's first ship crashed in 2014, killing a pilot.

Over the last year, billionaire Elon Musk's Space X firm has repeatedly failed to land rockets on a floating barge. 

In 2013, Musk said he doubted Blue Origin's ability to launch a rocket capable of reaching the International Space Station. 

"Frankly, I think we are more likely to discover unicorns dancing in the flame duct,” wrote Musk, per the Washington Post

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