Venture investor Lane Bess credits his appetite for risk for a successful career in Silicon Valley’s cybersecurity startups. It’s also what’s sending him into outer space. 

Bess is one of six passengers who’ll be soaring to the fringes of outer space thanks to Jeff Bezos’s space-exploration business, Blue Origin. Liftoff for the company’s third manned space flight is scheduled for Saturday from its launch facility in the West Texas desert.

“Part of who I am is seeking adventure and not being afraid to take risks,” Bess, 60, said in an interview. “It’s fulfilling a boyhood dream.”

Bess joins a small but growing group of ultra-wealthy adventurers who’ve bought their way into outer space thanks largely to competing ventures founded by billionaires such as Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk. Bess and his fellow paying passengers on the New Shepard mission—space tech executive Dylan Taylor and Evan Dick, a former managing director at Highbridge Capital Management—won’t even be the first space tourists this week: Japanese retail mogul Yusaku Maezawa blasted off early Wednesday for a 12-day trip to the International Space Station. 

The founder of online clothing retailer Zozo Inc., Maezawa, 46, is the first space tourist to visit the ISS in more than a decade. He’s been tweeting for months leading up to the trip, posting photos of his training and even offering to pay for others to join him when he becomes the first paying passenger to fly around the moon, courtesy of Musk’s SpaceX, in 2023.

Space tourism has been around for two decades, but this year has seen a burst of activity due to a combination of soaring wealth, more rocket operators and technological advances. While wannabe astronauts have more options than ever for facilitating their space journey, that hasn’t translated to lower prices, according to Eric Anderson, chief executive officer of Space Adventures, the company that coordinated Maezawa’s trip to the ISS.

“The costs are labor, materials, infrastructure, and it’s all gone up over time,” Anderson said. “Imagine the cost of flying to Tokyo if you throw away the airplane after one flight.” 

Bess, a former executive at Palo Alto Networks Inc. and Zscaler Inc. who now invests through his own fund, declined to say what he paid. Blue Origin auctioned off a ticket to its inaugural crewed flight in July for $28 million. Bess participated in the auction and, though he didn’t win, stayed in touch with Blue Origin’s sales team. The non-paying passengers on Saturday’s flight include Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

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