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The company plans to later fly humans, both as payload specialists for human-tended experiments as well as on tourist flights. Those flights, though, are still at least a year away. “We’re probably a year and a half, two years out from when we’re actually able to fly tended payloads,” Ashby said. “We’re about roughly a year out from human flights, depending on how the test program goes. We have a bunch more tests to do, and we’re going to fly some human test flights before we put paying people in the rocket.”
Previously they had suggested they would be flying humans much sooner, possibly this year. Despite this new delay, last week’s test flight did include Blue Origin’s first paying customers, and the company indicated that they have sold space on all their upcoming unmanned test flights, and that their manifest for those upcoming flights is essentially full.
Though I know many disagree with me, I am increasingly doubtful there will ever be a viable suborbital tourist business. Once commercial orbital manned flights become available, I don’t see there being much profitable interest in such short suborbital experiences. The cost will be too high in comparison with the payoff. And it appears that those commercial orbital manned flights are going to be arriving at about the same time as New Shepard’s first manned flight.