Jeff Bezos' rocket company plans to charge passengers about US$200,000 to US$300,000 for its first trips into space next year, two people familiar with its plans told Reuters.
Executives at the company, started by Amazon.com Inc founder Bezos in 2000, told a business conference last month they planned test flights with passengers on the New Shepard soon, and to start selling tickets next year.
The company, based about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle, has made public the general design of the vehicle - comprising a launch rocket and detachable passenger capsule - but has been tight-lipped on production status and ticket prices.
One Blue Origin employee with first-hand knowledge of the pricing plan said the company will start selling tickets in the range of about $200,000 to $300,000. A second employee said tickets would cost a minimum of $200,000. They both spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity as the pricing strategy is confidential.
The New Shepard is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet before the pressurized capsule returns to earth under parachutes.
The capsule features six observation windows Blue Origin says are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner.
Blue Origin has completed eight test flights of the vertical take-off and landing New Shepard from its launch pad in Texas, but none with passengers aboard. Two flights have included a test dummy the company calls "Mannequin Skywalker."
Bezos, the world's richest person with a fortune of about $112 billion, has competition from fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk, Tesla Inc's chief executive.
In recent months the found of Amazon has also been receiving harsh criticism over his labor rights and wage practices which has left hundreds of Amazon employees needing food stamps despite the company's success.
A recent study by Policy Matters Ohio indicates that more than 700 local Amazon employees – the bulk of Bezos' staff, who ensure products are correctly sorted, packaged and dispatched – have to rely on food stamps to survive.
Amazon reportedly received more than $17million in tax breaks in Ohio to open its first two distribution centers, according to The Daily Beast.
Also three plaintiffs sued Amazon in 2015, claiming that the company violated wage and hour policies in San Bernardino, California. Two years later, Amazon workers in Sacramento said they were denied overtime pay and rest breaks, according to Salon.