Jeff Bezos, the millionaire creator of Blue Origin, and his three crewmates will rely on little over a dozen hours of flight training when they launch into space on his company’s suborbital New Shepard rocket on Tuesday (July 20).
Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 pilot Wally Funk, and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen are scheduled to fly aboard New Shepard for the first time on Tuesday (July 20). The suborbital trip should take 11 minutes from takeoff to landing, giving the foursome at least three minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.
Blue Origin lead flight director Steve Lanius stated during a news conference on Sunday that the flight crew, all of whom were first-time spacefliers, had 14 hours of training over two days to ensure compliance with FAA standards (July 18). He said that the training started on Sunday and will end today.
Blue Origin’s historic first astronaut launch may be seen here and at BlueOrigin.com. The webcast will start at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT), with a 9 a.m. EDT launch (1300 GMT).
“Our training is thorough, and it prepares the crew for all they need to know about the vehicle,” Lanius explained.
Blue Origin’s crew underwent training on how to operate the capsule for nominal, “off nominal,” and emergency procedures, covering common difficulties that professional astronauts are trained for, such as fire response, emergency mask usage, and evacuating the spacecraft on the pad in a hurry.
“Mission rehearsals encompassing five distinct scenarios and a final test” conclude the training, according to Lanius. This crew’s final permission and “okay” for launch was scheduled for Monday (July 19).
The crew members, with the exception of Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, have minimal direct flight experience to prepare them for spaceflight. A typical NASA astronaut, on the other hand, gets two years of “astronaut candidacy” training before being approved for a future spaceflight (typically selected from a pool of applicants with considerable career experience in isolated or risky situations).
A NASA astronaut would typically train for their mission for anything from a few months to several years after being assigned to it, depending on the duration and complexity of the mission. A normal ISS crew, for example, spends two years in preparation before spending six months in space.
Other aspects of the NASA experience, such as bonding with crewmates at a “astronaut village,” will be available to Blue Origin space travelers in part. This resembles the cramped quarters and rigorous training that professional astronauts go through to get to know their crewmates before heading to space.
During their orientation, a Blue Origin trainer nicknamed “Crew Member Seven” would assist the tourists feel at ease with the trip, according to Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s director of astronaut and orbital sales, at the same news conference.
“They will work in a simulator that we have in our astronaut training facility, as well as in the classroom,” she explained.
“They’ll also go to the pad after that. We want to make sure our astronauts are comfortable not just with the capsule, but also with the facilities at Launch Site One and with the rest of the team.”
Ground procedures were also trained, as Blue Origin learnt how to operate New Shepard in orbit through 15 prior uncrewed flights, some of which launched payloads into space, according to Blue Origin CEO Robert Smith at the press briefing.
Because the flight crew consists entirely of non-professional astronauts, he stressed the importance of ground capabilities.
“We learnt how to build a vehicle that is safe enough to put our own loved ones aboard and send them to space,” he added. “We’ll use those skills in all we do.”
Blue Origin’s first astronaut mission takes Jeff Bezos into space.
WEST TEXAS — LAUNCH SITE ONE The world’s wealthiest individual has now gone beyond it.
Today (July 20), Jeff Bezos, the millionaire creator of the spaceflight firm Blue Origin, soared into suborbital space with three other passengers on the company’s New Shepard vehicle’s first crewed trip – a watershed event for the man and the space tourism sector.
“Bezos, you have Blue Control. The best day of my life!” While in the air, Bezos remarked.
The autonomous New Shepard, which is made up of a rocket and a capsule, took off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas, at 9:11 a.m. EDT today (1311 GMT; 8:11 a.m. local time).
The capsule transported Bezos, 53, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Dutch physics student Oliver Daemen 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) above Earth before landing in the West Texas scrublands with a parachute-assisted, dust-raising touchdown. The rocket also returned successfully to its chosen landing zone, landing vertically and poweredly. Its fall was accompanied by a loud sonic boom and wild shouts from the Blue Origin employees present.
It took little over ten minutes from takeoff to landing for all of this to happen. For the four passengers, though, it was undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m looking forward to seeing what it’ll be like, “On Monday, Bezos told NBC’s TODAY show (July 19). “People claim to have gone into space and returned altered. Whether it’s the thin limb of the Earth’s atmosphere and witnessing how fragile the world is, or the fact that it’s only one planet, astronauts constantly remark about it. So I’m looking forward to seeing what it does to me.”
In less than two weeks, Bezos became the second millionaire to enter space. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, embarked on the first fully crewed flight of the VSS Unity space plane, which is operated by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main competitor in the suborbital space tourism sector, on July 11.
Work that spans two decades
Blue Origin was launched by Jeff Bezos in September 2000, six years after he founded Amazon. For a decade, the spaceflight firm operated quietly, mostly hidden from public view.
Blue Origin altered that in 2010, when it was awarded a contract by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which intended to stimulate the development of private American astronaut taxis to replace the space shuttle, which was set to be retired. The next year, the business landed another contract, but not the major one; NASA revealed in 2014 that it had chosen SpaceX and Boeing’s vehicles, the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner, respectively.
Blue Origin proceeded to develop its own spacecraft, such as New Shepard, which is meant to transport passengers and payloads to suborbital space on short journeys. The 59-foot-tall (18-meter) vehicle is named after NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, whose suborbital mission on May 5, 1961, was the first crewed spaceflight in the United States.
In April of 2015, New Shepard was launched into suborbital space for the first time. On that mission, the capsule landed softly as anticipated, but the rocket collapsed during the touchdown attempt. However, the following New Shepard model aced a test flight in November, landing a rocket vertically for the first time during a space mission. (A month later, SpaceX nailed its own landing with the first stage of its Falcon 9 orbital rocket, a feat Elon Musk’s business has since accomplished over 80 times.)
The same New Shepard flew successfully again in January 2016, marking yet another reusability milestone. That spacecraft and two more flew 12 additional uncrewed test missions over the following five years, the most recent of which was a “astronaut rehearsal” in April.
All three missions were successful, preparing the stage for today’s mission, which was the third flight of RSS Next Step, the fourth New Shepard vehicle.
Blue Origin declared the July 20 objective on May 5, making history and acknowledging it. Both dates were carefully chosen: May 5 marked the 60th anniversary of Shepard’s historic mission, and July 20 marked the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
Bezos has frequently mentioned Apollo 11 as a major influence, claiming that his aspirations of flying began when he was five years old and witnessed the momentous lunar landing.
Today, Blue Origin created history of its own, and not just for the company’s sake: Funk and Daemen were the oldest and youngest persons to reach the last frontier, respectively.
The extraterrestrial voyage served as Funk’s long-awaited retribution. She’s one of the “Mercury 13,” a group of women who passed NASA’s physiological screening exams but were never seriously evaluated for space flight in the early days of the space era. To be a NASA astronaut back then, you had to be a male – particularly, a white military guy.
Sally Ride, the first female astronaut in space, was sent into orbit on the space shuttle Challenger’s STS-7 mission in June 1983. (Guion Bluford, the first African American to reach space, was carried aboard Challenger’s STS-8 mission, which launched in August.)
Funk succeeds John Glenn as the oldest spaceflyer, having embarked at the age of 77 on the STS-95 mission of the shuttle Discovery in October 1998, decades after being the first American to reach orbit.
On July 1, Blue Origin stated that Funk will be on today’s trip. Daemen was added to the manifest later; the business just announced his participation last Thursday (July 16). Blue Origin auctuated in mid-June.
However, the still-anonymous bidder had schedule difficulties, so Daemen took their place, according to business executives.
Somerset Capital Partners CEO Joes Daemen, Daemen’s father, paid for the seat and chose to let his son travel, according to CNBC. In addition to all of the previous achievements, RSS Next Step has now flown its first paying customer.
The first suborbital space tourism flight has taken launched.
On the same day that Blue Origin revealed their Funk, Virgin Galactic made its major announcement regarding Branson’s voyage. Many tales about a “billionaire space race” arose as a result of the spectacular news drops, which both Branson and Bezos have sought to quell.
“There was one guy who was the first human in space, and that happened a long time ago,” Bezos remarked on TODAY, alluding to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic orbital voyage on April 12, 1961. (And Branson isn’t the first millionaire to explore the furthest reaches of the universe.) Mega-wealthy software architect Charles Simonyi, for example, purchased two flights to the International Space Station,
“I believe I’ll be number 570 or something; that’s where we’ll be on this list,” Bezos continued. “This isn’t a competition, so don’t expect to win. This is about constructing a space highway so that future generations may accomplish great feats in space.”
Blue Origin wants to be a part of making those great things a reality in the long run. The firm is developing the New Glenn orbital launch system as well as the Blue Moon lunar lander. Blue Origin is also the founder of “The National Team,” a commercial consortium that suggested a crewed landing mechanism for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration mission. The National Team and another failed submitter, Alabama-based SpaceX, were both chosen by NASA for that assignment.
Whether or not there is personal rivalry between Branson and Bezos, the two billionaires’ firms are fighting for the same tiny pool of wealthy, adventurous consumers.
The most recent ticket price announced by Virgin Galactic was $250,000. Blue Origin hasn’t said how much a standard (non-auctioned) seat would cost, although it’s expected to be in the low six digits.
Both businesses provide customers with three to four minutes of weightlessness and spectacular views of the Earth against the darkness of space. There are, nevertheless, major variations between the two flights. New Shepard, for example, is an autonomous capsule that launches vertically and descends behind parachutes.
New Shepard can also fly a few miles higher than VSS Unity, as Blue Origin pointed out in a few of tweets on July 9. The tweets explained that Virgin Galactic spaceflights came with an asterisk since Unity doesn’t reach the Kármán line, a 62-mile-high (100-kilometer) boundary considered by some to represent the beginning of space. (Unity flies higher than the 50-mile (80-kilometer) limit set by NASA, the US military, and the Federal Aviation Administration.)
If all goes according to plan, this competition will heat up shortly. Blue Origin intends to launch two additional crewed New Shepard missions this year, the first of which is scheduled for September or October, according to company representatives.
Virgin Galactic plans to perform a few more test flights this autumn before launching full commercial operations from Spaceport America in New Mexico early next year. Both firms intend to increase their flight rate over time, allowing them to lower rates and widen their client base significantly – maybe to the point where the rest of us can swim in it eventually.