Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos said yesterday that he would sell about $1 billion worth of the internet retailer's stock annually to fund his Blue Origin rocket company, which aimed to launch paying passengers on 11-minute space rides starting next year.
Blue Origin had hoped to start test flights with company pilots and engineers in 2017, but that probably would not happen until next year, Bezos told reporters at the annual US Space Symposium, in Colorado Springs.
"My business model right now ... for Blue Origin is I sell about $1 billion of Amazon stock a year and I use it to invest in Blue Origin," said Amazon founder-CEO and the owner of The Washington Post.
The plan for Blue Origin was to become a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise, with a long-term goal to cut cost of so that millions of people could live and work off earth, Bezos said.
Bezos, Amazon's largest shareholder, holds 80.9 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
At yesterday's closing share price of $909.28, Bezos would need to sell 1,099,771 shares to meet his pledge of selling $1 billion worth of Amazon stock. Bezos' current holding in the company representing a 16.95-per cent stake and was worth $73.54 billion at yesterday's closing price.
According to Bezos, the world's second-wealthiest man after Bill Gates, he had been reinvesting the money he made at e-commerce giant Amazon since he started his space exploration company over a decade ago.
Yesterday he launched what he hoped would entice people to pay about $300,000 for a quick flight to suborbital space.
Bezos had taken a cue from hotels and restaurants in the design of a space capsule that Blue Origin planned to use to launch paying tourists into space within two years.
The pod would come with the, "largest windows in spacecraft history," according to the company.