The date of Jeff Bezos’ trip to space isn’t a coincidence – it’s the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon

Jeff Bezos and the Apollo 11 moon landing
  • Jeff Bezos will travel to the edge of space aboard a Blue Origin rocket on July 20.
  • The date has good mojo in space history: It’s the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
  • Bezos is obsessed with Apollo 11 – he retrieved pieces of its engine from the ocean in 2013.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos’ trip aboard a Blue Origin rocket on Tuesday will take place on a fortuitous day in space history.

The 11-minute trip 62 miles above Earth will take Bezos to the edge of space. Inside Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and Dutch teen Oliver Daemen will have three minutes to float around the spacecraft and view Earth from afar – or gaze into the depths of outer space.

While it could be a risky trip for the world’s richest person and ex-CEO of Amazon, the date of the trip – July 20 – has pretty good mojo: It’s the anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon 52 years ago.

On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin blasted off from the Florida coast with the mission of landing on the moon and collecting samples of its surface. Four days later, on July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, planting the American flag and capturing iconic footage of their voyage.

Read more: Space vacations will soon be an option for people with 6 figures to burn. These are 4 companies leading the industry.

Now, decades later, Bezos will fulfill a childhood ambition to visit space on the same date. Bezos’ interest in space stems from his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise. According to Brad Stone’s book, “Amazon Unbound,” Gise spent the 1950s and 1960s working on space technology and missile defense systems for the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that was created in 1946 to manage the use of nuclear energy for both civilian and military applications. A young Bezos used to travel to Gise’s South Texas ranch each summer where he would watch Apollo launches and read science fiction books from the library, according to Stone’s book.

As an adult, Bezos took his love of space to the next level: First, with the founding of Blue Origin in 2000, a rocket company focused on getting humans to the moon. Then, in 2013, Bezos, his brother, his brother-in-law, and his parents spent three weeks at sea recovering pieces of the engine of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland,” Bezos wrote of the experience, “an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”

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Jeff Bezos is stepping aside as Amazon CEO, but it’s unlikely he’s slowing down. The billionaire tech tycoon has a passion for extreme adventures, from dog-sledding to ocean exploration.

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin
  • Jeff Bezos may bet stepping down as Amazon CEO, but it’s highly unlikely he’s slowing down.
  • The billionaire has long had a love of adventures, like long horseback trips and ocean exploration.
  • His next voyage will be to the edge of space aboard a Blue Origin rocket.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos may be stepping aside as CEO of Amazon, but if history is any indication, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

The 57-year-old Bezos has a penchant for unusual adventures, hobbies that take him on days-long horseback rides or to the bottom of the ocean. In fact, his next voyage will take him to the outer reaches of Earth’s gravitational pull. On July 20, Bezos, his brother, and two other passengers will take an 11-minute trip to space aboard a Blue Origin rocket.

Read more: The leadership challenge that awaits Amazon’s next CEO

But the space voyage is the latest – and arguably most extreme – way Bezos has spent his time and money over the years.

Bezos once went on a 50-mile horseback ride through West Texas

Accompanied by his father, Mike, and his brother Mark, Bezos rode for 50 miles on horseback.

“Three days, super fun, my butt hurt,” Bezos said during an interview with Mark at a Summit leadership event in 2017.

Mark Bezos shared a photo of his brother sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground during the trip, his pillow covered in a ring of frost.

“This is when you know it’s good to be a mammal,” Bezos said.

He traveled to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve pieces of Apollo 11

In 2013, Bezos, his brother, his brother-in-law, and his parents spent 30 days at sea recovering pieces of the engine of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which took the first humans to the moon.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program,” Bezos wrote of the experience.

Bezos has always been passionate about Apollo 11, and even timed his space journey to the iconic mission: July 20 is the same day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon in 1969.

He once climbed to the top of one of Amazon’s wind turbines

In 2017, Bezos shared a video on Instagram to celebrate the opening of one of Amazon’s wind farms. Equipped only with a harness and a hard hat, Bezos stood on top of a turbine and smashed a bottle of bubbly.

“Fun day christening Amazon’s latest wind farm,” he wrote.

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos)

He’s gone cave-exploring

During Bezos’ 2017 interview with his brother, Mark Bezos shared photos of Bezos rappelling hundreds of feet down into a cave.

Accompanied by their brother-in-law, Steve, Bezos’ now ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, and a friend, the two brothers snapped a group photo at the bottom where they’re surrounded by stalagmites.

“That was a great trip,” Bezos said. “You don’t have to worry about checking your phone there. No radio signals down there.”

He went dog-sledding in the Arctic

To celebrate Earth Day in 2018, Bezos shared a video of himself being pulled behind six dogs through a snowy forest in the Arctic.

“Dog sledding above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway,” Bezos wrote. “Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell says it’s not that you go to heaven when you die, but ‘you go to heaven when you’re born.’ Earth is the best planet in our solar system – by far. We go to space to save the Earth.”

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos)

He’s about to take his first trip to space

On July 20, Jeff Bezos will be among the first human passengers to fly aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.

He’ll be joined by his brother, an unnamed passenger who placed the winning bid of $28 million in an auction for the seat last month, and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who trained to go to space in the 1960s but was ultimately denied the opportunity because she was a woman.

“I want to go on this flight because it’s a thing I wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video posted to Instagram. “It’s an adventure – it’s a big deal for me.”

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Astronaut Michael Collins, who circled the moon during the Apollo 11 landing, has died at age 90

michael collins astronaut apollo 11
Michael Collins practices in the Apollo 11 Command Module simulator on June 19, 1969, at Kennedy Space Center.

  • NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who participated in the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, has died at 90.
  • Collins piloted the Command Module Columbia while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
  • “The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance,” Collins later said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Astronaut Michael Collins, who played a critical role in the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, has died at age 90.

Collins launched toward the moon with fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969. While his crewmates became the first people to walk on the lunar surface, Collins piloted the Command Module Columbia that would carry the three of them back to Earth.

“I was the most lonesome person in the whole universe, at least according to the newspapers,” Collins joked in a 2014 Apollo panel held by NASA. “Actually, I was so glad to get behind the moon so Mission Control would shut up.”

The moon’s mass would block communications when the spaceship passed behind it, which was when Collins said he “had some peace and quiet.” During that time on the command module, he performed experiments and photographed the lunar surface.

“The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance,” he later said, according to NPR. “Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile.”

apollo 11 astronauts quarantine
The Apollo 11 crew in the Mobile Quarantine Facility, following their return to Earth. From left to right: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.

Apollo 11 was Collins’ second spaceflight. He also piloted the three-day Gemini X mission in 1966, in which he conducted two spacewalks to retrieve an experimental package orbiting Earth.

According to a statement from his family, Collins died of cancer on Wednesday, after spending “his final days peacefully, with his family by his side.”

The statement continued: “Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. We will honor his wish for us to celebrate, not mourn, that life. Please join us in fondly and joyfully remembering his sharp wit, his quiet sense of purpose, and his wise perspective, gained both from looking back at Earth from the vantage of space and gazing across calm water from the deck of his fishing boat.”

astronaut michael collins mike apollo 11
On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, July 16, 2019, Michael Collins stands in the suit-up room in the astronaut crew quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy, where his father was a major general for the US Army.

He graduated from the the US Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1952, then became an Air Force test pilot. NASA selected him to be an astronaut in 1963, in its third astronaut class.

astronaut michael collins mike apollo 11
In his space suit, Command Module pilot Michael Collins does a final check of his communications system before the boarding of the Apollo 11 mission.

He received the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 1969, as well as the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

After Collins left NASA in 1970, he spent seven years as director of the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, overseeing the construction and opening of the museum building.

“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a statement on Wednesday. “Michael remained a tireless promoter of space … There is no doubt he inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, test pilots, and astronauts.”

In total, Collins spent 266 hours in space.

“Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,” Collins once said, according to NASA. “What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.”

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