Jeff Bezos reaches space in Blue Origin’s first crewed launch
VAN HORN, Texas – Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, and now the first to hold the title while he’s not on Earth.
Blue Origin launched him into spaceflight history on Tuesday, with Bezos aboard his company’s first crewed New Shepard rocket, alongside his brother and the oldest and youngest people to ever fly. in the space.
After landing, Bezos reflected on making his long-awaited dream of flying into space come true.
“Best day of my life!” he said.
This photo provided by Blue Origin, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket takes off on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The rocket carries passengers Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space travel company Blue Origin, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk. Blue Origin | PA
The capsule carrying the Blue Origin crew accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound before reaching 80 kilometers (or about 262,000 feet), the border the United States uses to mark the edge of space. . The crew floated in microgravity for a few minutes, before the capsule returned and landed under a set of parachutes.
The launch marked Blue Origin’s entry into the private spaceflight market, joining Virgin Galactic of Richard Branson – its direct competitor in the suborbital tourism sector – and SpaceX of Elon Musk.
In addition to his singular net worth, Bezos, 57, is also the only space founder to have completed his company’s first crewed flight. While SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have already launched astronauts, Bezos is the first to participate in the crew’s maiden flight.
Floating beside him: Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, 18 – the oldest and youngest humans to ever fly in space respectively – and Bezos’ brother Mark, 53.
Bezos invited his brother and Aerospace pioneer Funk to join the flight. Daemen was a late addition. Its seat was originally part of a public auction, but the auction winner, an anonymous person who offered $ 28 million to steal with Bezos, was unable to make it to the date of July 20 launch. Daemen’s father, Joes, CEO of a private equity firm in the Netherlands, was also a bidder, with Daemen scheduled to fly on Blue Origin’s second crew launch as a paying passenger. When the mystery bidder pulled out, the company moved Daemen to the first launch.
Tuesday’s launch also came on another historic milestone – the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos’ spatial vision
The launch of New Shepard is an important step in his progression towards Bezos’ vision. He founded Blue Origin with the aim of creating “a future where millions of people live and work in space for the benefit of the Earth”.
The New Shepard rocket and the capsule on top of it are reusable, capable of launching, landing and relaunching multiple times. The rocket system is in many ways a pioneer for Blue Origin’s other larger-scale projects, such as its New Glenn orbital rocket.
Like New Shepard, the New Glenn rocket thruster is designed to be reusable, with the company expecting each to be able to launch and land 25 times. New Glenn, with a target inaugural launch date of late 2022, stands approximately 320 feet tall and is designed to lift nearly 50 tons of payload into low Earth orbit. The rockets are named after Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn, the first American in space and the first American to orbit Earth, respectively. In 1998, Senator Glenn, then 77, became the oldest person in space.
Blue Origin has also developed several engines to power its two rockets, including the BE-3, BE-4 and BE-7 engines.
Blue Origin is also working on a crewed lander called the Blue Moon, which the company hopes will one day deliver astronauts and cargo to the lunar surface.
Billionaires from space
The company’s only direct competitor in the space tourist launch market at the edge of space is Branson’s Virgin Galactic, an industry known as suborbital tourism. SpaceX is set to launch its first private mission in September, dubbed Inspiration4, but Musk’s company is sending its capsules further into space on multi-day flights, in what’s called orbital tourism.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have developed rocket-powered spaceships, but that’s where the similarities end. As Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches vertically, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system is released into the air and hovers back to Earth for a landing on a runway, like an airplane.
And while Blue Origin launches on its own, the Virgin Galactic system is piloted by two pilots. Branson’s company has completed four test space flights to date, but does not plan to start flying paying customers until 2022.
The Blue Origin auction might have fetched $ 28 million, but a seat on a suborbital spacecraft is usually a lot cheaper. Virgin Galactic has historically sold reservations for between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000 per ticket, and more recently billed the Italian Air Force about $ 500,000 per ticket for a training space flight.