Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said that he sells nearly $1bn worth of shares annually to finance his rocket company.
Starting from 2018, Bezos’ rocket venture Blue Origin aims to offer 11-minute space rides for passengers.
At the annual US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Bezos said that test flights with company pilots and engineers will not happen until next year, though the company had hoped to conduct them in 2017.
Bezos was quoted by Reuters as saying: “My business model right now … for Blue Origin is I sell about $1bn of Amazon stock a year and I use it to invest in Blue Origin.”
The chief executive of Amazon.com said the ultimate plan for Blue Origin would be to operate as a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise.
Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post newspaper, added that the long-term goal of the rocket company would be to reduce the cost of space flight to enable millions of people to live and work off Earth.
According to Thomson Reuters data, Bezos is the largest shareholder in Amazon, owning 80.9 million shares.
Currently, Washington-based Blue Origin has not set ticket prices for its planned 11 minute space rides, which will see passengers reaching an altitude of more than 100 miles above the planet.
Blue Origin will provide the space trips in a six-passenger, gumdrop-shaped capsule, dubbed ‘New Shepard.’
The company is also developing a second launch system that will be used to carry satellites into orbit. The system is similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule and is known as New Glenn. It is expected to cost about $2.5bn.
Bezos was quoted by The New York Times as saying: “It’s a mistake to race to a deadline when you’re talking about a flying vehicle, especially one that you’re going to put people on.
“I still think we can do commercial paying passengers in 2018.”