Amazon founder Jeff Bezos looked excited and cheerful as he handed out food to a group of journalists at the launch site of his New Shepard space rocket in west Texas on Monday afternoon while joking with a reporter who asked if it was "his last meal." Bezos sportingly responded, "Did somebody say last meal?" as he set out the food on a table.
Bezos is due to take off in his Blue Origin rocket for an 11-minute rocket-powered trip to space in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship on Tuesday.
Bezos on a High
On Monday, Bezos was on a high as he served food to the media at the launch site of his New Shepard space rocket in west Texas. He will be travelling to space on Tuesday with his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old space pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daeman.
The "last meal" joke began during the lunch. As one reporter asked if it was the "last meal," Bezos jokingly said, "I don't think you have to put it that way!"
"Let's talk about it in a different way!" he quipped and the hall broke out in laughter. Understandably, Bezos wants to make the entire voyage eventful and impress the media.
In an interview with crewmembers 24 hours before liftoff, Bezos addressed questions about the ship's safety during an interview to CNN. "I could have done this flight as CEO of Amazon and it would have been fine. We really believe this flight is safe. I did have friends say, "why not wait for the second or third flight, why do you have to go now?"
"But we know the vehicle is safe and if it's not safe for me then it's not safe for anyone. But we've taken this one step at a time, our mascot is the tortoise... we are ready."
Ready to Fly
Blue Origin will take off from Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas, before rising to 66 miles above Earth in a roundtrip that will take just 10 minutes in total. The capsule that they will be traveling in has the biggest windows flown into space.
However, the distance that Bezos will travel beats out Richard Branson's voyage to space on July 11, which only reached 53 miles above Earth. Bezos' flight is being termed as "joyrides for the wealthy" by many but the billionaire has an answer for his critics.
In his interview to CNN, Bezos was asked by Rachel Crane: "There has been a chorus of critics saying that these flights to space are just joyrides for the wealthy and that you should be spending your time and your money and energy trying to solve problems here on Earth. So what do you say to those critics?"
"Well, I say they're largely right. We have to do both," Bezos said. "We have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We've always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both."
It comes as Bezos, the richest person in the world, has faced increasing criticism at the staggering amount of his personal wealth.
That said, Bezos is more focus on his maiden space voyage as of now. On Monday, the crew appeared in their astronaut uniforms at Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas, for a string of interviews where he said they were neither afraid nor nervous about the flight that would set a precedent for "commercial air travel."
Speaking to Good Morning America shortly afterwards, Bezos said the "real goal" was to establish reusable space vehicles that will take people to space "again and again" and allow the next generation to use space resources to improve life on Earth.