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Blue Origin says a new era of space tourism will probably launch in 2020

A pair of tycoon-owned companies are jockeying for the travel dollars of the super rich.


A test launch of the New Shepard rocket.

Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos' rocket company says it probably won't send anyone to space before the new year. 

When last we heard from Blue Origin, as it launched its New Shepard rocket in May, Sales Director Ariane Cornell reminded us repeatedly that the company was planning to send humans to space by the end of 2019. But now, with little more than a quarter of this calendar turn to go, Blue Origin is revising its timeline a bit. 

CEO Bob Smith told CNBC that Blue Origin hopes to complete at least two more test flights before adding passengers to the equation.

"It's us being cautious and thorough with the total systems we need to verify," Smith explained.  

Now playing: Watch this: What to expect from SpaceX, Blue Origin in 2019 and beyond

Blue Origin filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday that would extend into 2020 the authorization window for its next New Shepard launch. 

The delay comes as one of Blue Origin's potential competitors, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, is also looking to start sending tourists to space very soon.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told me in August, at the opening of the company's new astronaut lounge inside New Mexico's Spaceport America, that he still hopes to see customers in space by May.

So after years of promises, it's looking like 2020 will finally be the year space tourism gets off the ground, for real. But then again, we've heard that before

Now playing: Watch this: First look inside Virgin Galactic's space passenger terminal