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How risky is it to send Jeff Bezos to the edge of space?

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A Blue Origin spokesman declined to answer WIRED’s questions about the type of training the Bezos brothers would receive before their flight, and about how the capsule’s control and navigation would work, instead of pointing out a page on their website which says New Shepard has made 15 successful flights, including three tests of its capsule abortion system that will allow it to detach from the rocket in case something goes wrong on the launchpad or while it’s on high.

Virgin Galactic VSS Unit it’s more like a plane of roots with wings. The polished six-seater is brought to an altitude of about 50,000 feet by a specially built double-fuselage aircraft called BiancuKnightTwo. The rocket plane is released from under the aircraft, and then starts its engines for 60 seconds to crash to the edge of the 50-kilometer-high space, going there for a few minutes of joy. Once it reaches the highest point, the rear half of the vehicle bends upwards, which creates a aerodynamically stable scheme with high resistance which allows the item to float like a badminton shuttlecock. The increased resistance keeps the speed of the boat low, while the bent shape ensures the environment maintains the proper attitude. Then, after slowing down and reaching the lowest altitude, the wings bend back. The ship returns to its original position and lands as an airplane on a runway, in this case, in Virgin’s New Mexico spaceport. The entire trip lasts about 90 minutes from start to finish, and there is no bathroom on board.

Virgin Galactic’s road to human flights this year has experienced some fatal contrasts. Unit is the company’s second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. In 2007, three employees of Scaled Composites, a company that builds the item for Virgin, were killed at a Mojave Desert facility during the first tests of SpaceShipTwo rock engines. Scaled Composites was funded by Branson at the time.

In 2014, a subsequent version of SpaceShipTwo exploded in the air, killing a co-pilot and seriously injuring the pilot during a test. Federal accident investigators he found inadequate conception safeguards, lax regulatory vigilance, and a potentially anxious co-pilot who had no recent flight experience as important factors in the crash. At the time, Virgin officials said they were making changes to the system for that the position of the wing could not be released prematurely by any pilot, an event that led to the crash, according to federal investigation.

Despite these incidents, Virgin Galactic has not given up, and has done its most recent –and successful flight-equipment of VSS Unit at the end of May. Unit, the latest version of SpaceShipTwo, has been modified to increase safety measures, including a cabin pressure system that maintains life support if something should happen during part of the trip. The ship also includes an escape system for crew and passengers, according to Aleanna Crane, vice president of communications for Virgin Galactic.

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Just before takeoff, Branson and the other passengers will spend three days training at Virgin’s New Mexico spaceport to familiarize themselves with the flight and review procedure, Crane added.

Virgin analyzes the May 22 flight data before planning the next one, which will require an FAA license. This means it’s still unclear if Branson will arrive at the space before the scheduled excursion to Bezos on July 20th. “We’re going to have three additional test flights, two of them in the summer,” Crane said from London. “One of which will have Richard on board.”

The third test flight will include three members of the Italian Air Force for a search mission.

NASA astronauts say that flying on a short suborbital journey is not the same as traveling to the International Space Station. NASA vehicles such as the now-retired Space Shuttle or new SpaceX Crew Dragon depend on several reinforcement races to put them into orbit, as well as complex life support, propulsion, navigation, and avionics systems which tell the reason where to go. Some of these systems are automated; others require a trained pilot, such as during docking with the ISS. In contrast, the two new commercial spacecraft are simpler in design and operation, according to Doug Hurley, a NASA astronaut who piloted the first Crew Dragon spacecraft on the ISS May, 2020, with colleague Bob Behnken.


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