Amazon founder Jeff Bezos flew straight to the edge of space. The billionaire – carried on a missile built by his space flight company Blue Origin and accompanied by three other space tourists – joins a small but growing number of people who have traveled in space but are not professionally trained astronauts.
Bezos’ trip is a big deal for Blue Origin – even if its New Shepard missile, named after the first American to visit space, Alan Shepard, he already had 15 successful test flights. Tuesday is the first time the rocket has brought man into space. But most importantly, the trip signals that the era of civilian space tourism is officially here – or at least, it’s for the very rich.
On July 11, Richard Branson, billionaire partner and founder of the space tourism company Virgin Galactic, defeated Bezos at the space frontier when he flew here. a 90-minute journey with five other passengers on one of his company planes.
Bezos and Branson’s space travel is a reminder that space is no longer just a place where national governments go to explore and learn more about the universe, but a terrain that private companies are exploiting. Bezos has invested billions of his money in Blue Origin, and his company sold at auction a ticket for space in one of its races for $ 28 million.
À a pre-launch mission briefing On Sunday, Ariane Cornell, sales director for Blue Origin astronauts, said two more flights were planned this year and that the company had “already built a robust pipeline of interested customers.” Analysts at investment banking firm Canaccord Genuity to get he estimated that tourism to suburban space could be a $ 8 billion industry by the end of the decade.
Hosted by Blue Origin a live food on their website.
Around 9:15 am ET on July 20, the Blue Origin rocket left for a remote desert in West Texas. On departure, the vehicle launched into space, carrying a six-seater capsule containing Bezos and the other passengers, propelled high by a powerful 60-foot-high booster missile.
To get to space, New Shepard moves incredibly quickly: faster than Mach 3, or more than three times the speed of sound. A few minutes after the flight, the capsule separated from the booster, which then returned to Earth and landed vertically (ensuring that it was reusable for future flights).
Meanwhile, the Blue Origin capsule headed for the apex of its flight path and crossed the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized border between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. It is about 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, about 10 miles higher than Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight earlier this month. Like that flight, those traveling on the New Shepard of Blue Origin had a wonderful view of the Earth and had the opportunity to experience fattening.
“They’re obviously a little taller, a little faster, but they only have to have a few minutes of low-microgravity experience before they come back right away,” said Wendy Whitman Cobb, a professor at the US Air School of Aerospace the Force, he told Recode. There is also the notion of what is called the “general view effect”. That’s when astronauts rise into space and are tall enough to see the Earth for what it is, and it changes the way they see things on Earth. ”
After reaching the apex of the flight, the capsule went into the Earth’s atmosphere, eventually deploying parachutes to the ground. In general, the whole trip has come to a close 10 to 15 minutes.
Blue Origin passengers make history
Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, has realized his lifelong dream of traveling in space. “If you see Earth from space, it will change you. It will change your relationship with this planet, with humanity,” the billionaire explained in a video announcing the June flight. “It’s a big deal for me.”
Bezos was joined by his brother, firefighter and charity executive Mark Bezos. The flight also carried the oldest and youngest visitors to the area: Wally Funk, an 82-year-old American aviator, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch teenager. Funk, the first female flight inspector at the Federal Aviation Administration, was one of the first women to train to become a NASA astronaut, but was ultimately denied the opportunity to travel to space due to of their sex. Daemen joins the flight as Blue Origin’s first paying customer; took the place of a still anonymous bidder who paid $ 28 million for a position (that person would have had a planning conflict and would travel in a flight later).
While Blue Origin has made history in many ways, the flight is also a reminder that many people view space tourism, at least for the foreseeable future, as primarily funded by and for the very rich – and that won’t do much for advancing science and our understanding of space.
“The experience of a few hyper-rich amateurs who pay $ 28 million to vomit for 15 minutes probably won’t bring many average people closer to space flight or change their impression of it,” Matthew Hersch said. a history of technology at Harvard, he told Recode in an email. “Responding to NASA’s spacecraft, they are intelligent amusement parks with minimal utility, intended to support a tourism business that has never been part of NASA’s charter.”
In fact, Bezos and Blue Origin aren’t the only private companies looking to make a profit on the joyrides in space. Virgin Galactic, fresh from Branson’s flight, is already moving forward with her plans to try and modify her plans to eventual commercial service. And this fall, SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is also sending its missile into space, with billionaire Jared Isaacman on board. At the same time, NASA is also leading these companies on more ambitious projects, including the hiring of SpaceX to transport their astronauts to the International Space Station.
“Show customers [and] showing the world that they have enough confidence in their system to get on board and experience the same … it’s a big part of that, ”he told Recode Whitman Cobb of the Air Force School. part of that is also ego. ”