WASHINGTON, DC -- Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is now ready to send humans to the edge of space as the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday expanded the company’s operator license for full commercial space-launch.
The company's first manned space flight will take place next week on July 20, launching from its Launch Site One facility near the Culberson County city of Van Horn, with Bezos himself as a passenger.
Blue Origin is competing with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic in the accelerating race to carry space tourists on short suborbital flights.
Virgin had a successful suborbital fight from southern New Mexico's Spaceport America over the weekend, with Branson himself among the crew. Virgin had acquired FAA approval of its full commercial space-launch license late last month.
Under federal regulatory framework, the FAA is charged only with keeping the general public and other aircraft safe during commercial launches, as spacecraft blast off and traverse the airspace that airliners and helicopters use. Congress has prohibited the FAA from regulating the safety of the crew or space flight participants.
To gain license approval to carry humans, the FAA said both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic were required to verify that their space vehicle technology worked safely and as intended in test flights. The FAA confirmed both companies have now met that requirement.
(ABC News contributed to this report.)