July 19 (UPI) -- Jeff Bezos, the man who made e-commerce the "economy's new frontier," plans to fly into space Tuesday in an effort to make tourism far above the Earth the new frontier.
Time magazine recognized Bezos as "Person of the Year" in 1999 for his founding of the Amazon retail website, saying, "Some people must be genetically predisposed to explore the frontiers."
Bezos has grown into one of the richest and most famous people on the planet since he launched Amazon in 1994 at age 30.
After amassing billions of dollars from the Amazon venture, Bezos decided to make childhood dreams of spaceflight personal and founded the Blue Origin space company in 2000, two years before fellow businessman Elon Musk founded SpaceX.
"I posted our first job opening 25 years ago today, when I hadn't even settled on the name Amazon yet. Feels like yesterday," Bezos posted on Instagram on an Amazon anniversary in 2019.
In that job opening, he asked for a computer programmer who could create complex systems "in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible." Such ambitious goals helped lead him to success, he said.
Blue Origin, like SpaceX, has made reusable rockets the focus of a goal to make spaceflight more affordable. Blue Origin tested New Shepard, and landed it, in a flight to the 62-mile-high Karman line in November 2015.
Musk's SpaceX quickly followed by landing its orbital Falcon 9 a month later. Since then, SpaceX has dominated the so-called New Space industry, having launched astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020 and beating out Blue Origin for a NASA moon landing contract in April.
Musk has prodded Bezos, 57, over the years with sarcasm and jokes on social media about the competition. After Bezos held a press conference to announce his Blue Moon lander concept, Musk posted on Twitter, "Oh stop teasing, Jeff" with a winking emoji face and a lewd reference to Blue Moon.
The commercial space race also includes British billionaire Richard Branson, who founded his Virgin Galactic in 2004. Branson beat Musk and Bezos to space himself by riding on his company's VSS Unity spaceship on July 11.
On the tarmac after he landed, Branson told the media, "It really wasn't a race. ... We wish Jeff the absolute best."
Bezos has had personal drama also. Former President Donald Trump called him "Jeff Bozo" after the Amazon founder announced his divorce from Mackenzie Scott in 2019. That was also after the National Enquirer published racy text messages Bezos sent to his girlfriend.
Trump had feuded with Bezos on Twitter in 2013 after the Amazon founder bought the Washington Post. Trump said later in a tweet that Amazon stock "would crash and it would crumble like a paper bag" if the company had to pay fair taxes.
"Finally trashed by @realDonaldTrump. Will still reserve him a seat on the Blue Origin rocket," Bezos responded.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO on July 5, and is expected to devote more time to Blue Origin, the Washington Post and other ventures. As part of the move, he becomes executive chairman of Amazon's board.
Raised in Houston and Miami, Bezos attended Palmetto High School in Miami, working at McDonald's for a while. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science.
That background gave him a front-row seat on the emergence of the Internet as an unprecedented human communication and connection phenomenon.
"The Internet holds the promise to improve lives and empower people," he told Time in 1999. "I feel very lucky to be involved in this time of rapid and amazing change."