Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to go to Space on July 20, onboard a test flight of the New Shepard rocket made by Blue Origin.
The former CEO stepped down from his Amazon role to give more time to his space-bound ambitions and be more involved with Blue Origin.
The billionaire space race has been going on for a few years now and includes Bezos, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson.
The Billionaire Space Race
While these companies started almost at the same time, in the early 2000s, SpaceX is leagues ahead in terms of technological developments and commercial success.
Meanwhile, Blue Origin has honestly been in the back seat of the private space industry. The most noise Blue Origin made was last year when they challenged NASA awarding SpaceX the contract for their upcoming Lunar landing mission called Project Artemis.
But with Bezos leading the charge now, Blue Origin is hoping to turn around their luck. And Bezos wants to mark his taking charge with a bang:
The former Amazon CEO confirmed in early June that he will be part of the first-ever crewed flight of the New Shepard suborbital rocket. The New Shepard is blue origin’s crown jewel and has been in development for over 6 years. It has flown 15 uncrewed test flights up till now.
Jeff Bezos Space Flight
Jeff Bezos will not be alone in his 11-minute flight at 2,300 mph. He will be joined by 3 other crew members. The first one is Jeff’s brother Mark Bezos. The second crew member is Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot that was at the top of her class in the Mercury 13 program:
Mercury 13 was a privately funded program to train women astronauts to fly in NASA’s earliest space missions. They never got a chance to go to space.
The last crew member to join Bezos is an 18-year-old high school graduate called Oliver Daemen. Oliver was not supposed to go on the first flight. He is taking the place of an anonymous bidder that paid $28-million dollars to secure that seat. But had to cancel last minute due to scheduling problems:
Oliver’s father had bought a seat for him on a future flight, but he moved to the first flight when a seat became available. Interestingly, this flight will have both the youngest person to go to space (Oliver) and the oldest person (Funky).
The New Shepard
The crew will be seated in a six-seater capsule mounted on the 59 foot tall New Shepard rocket. The flight is estimated to last 11 minutes as the rocket reaches an altitude of 60 miles above the surface of the earth.
The New Shepard rocket is a vertical launched rocket system. Both the rocket and the capsule are designed to be reusable.
The test flight is planned for 20th July and Blue Origin has announced they will live stream the whole event.
CHECK OUT: 5 Ways AI Could Help In Space Exploration
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson also made the news this month when he went 50 miles from the Earth’s surface on board the VSS Unity, a spacecraft part of Virgin Galactic:
His announcement came after Jeff Bezos’ planned flight in what can only be described as oneupmanship.
Branson successfully completed his test flight along with a crew of 4 other astronauts on July 13. Beating Jeff Bezos by a week into becoming the first billionaire in space.
But Richard’s flight has also been met with its fair share of criticism. Some space enthusiasts argue that Richard Branson was not high enough at 50 miles for it to be considered as going into space. While Bezos planned flight at 60 miles will break the ‘Karman Line’ and he will be the first billionaire into space.
Whatever the case, both are astounding achievements in and of themselves. The future of space travel is looking brighter each day.