It is somewhat reminiscent of the flying competition of May 1927, during which Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic alone. History repeats itself almost 100 years later. The destination is not Paris or New York, but a private flight in suborbital space. British billionaire Richard Branson, 70, managed to do so on July 11, when he reached an altitude of 86 kilometers with five other astronauts from his company Virgin Galactic.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 57, wants to go one step closer on Tuesday and float about 100 kilometers above the earth for three to four minutes with his space company Blue Origin’s capsule. Since the space limit for the US space agency Nasa is 80.5 kilometers, but the FAI has set the limit of 100 kilometers, Bezos absolutely wants to fly high enough for his clients to receive the astronaut badge. so coveted. And his anticipation is great: “Seeing earth from space changes you, it changes your relationship with this planet and humanity,” he said in a music video.
As Branson took off with a carrier plane from Spaceport America into the New Mexico desert and the pilot-controlled spacecraft disengaged at an altitude of about nine miles, Bezos wants to be north of the town of Van Horn in the West Texas Desert at 8:00 a.m., departure with a reusable spaceship. This accelerates to about 3,700 kilometers per hour, the capsule is separated at an altitude of 75 kilometers and continues to fly fully automatically. The flight is over after about eleven minutes and the capsule is supposed to land with three parachutes.
Bezo’s rocket has never carried astronauts before
Bezos’ 53-year-old brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk and Dutchman Oliver Daemen are also on board. The 18-year-old is replacing the unknown winner of an auction, who bought a seat in the capsule for $ 28 million and, according to Blue Origin, will only be there on a later flight for scheduling reasons. Daemen’s place had been bought by his father, an investment banker, but had been the subject of a bidding up. It seems almost anyone can fly now: the passengers have had two days of training behind them.
Open detailed view
Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen (left to right) on their way to space.
Critics say it may be too early to pick up passengers who already pay, especially since the New Shepard rocket has already made 15 successful test flights since 2015, but never with astronauts. Branson’s spacecraft, on the other hand, has already been in suborbital space three times with a company-owned crew. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told reporters, in view of the successful test flights, “that we are good to go. We can fly astronauts and do it safely.” Flight Director Steve Lanius added that it makes no difference whether employees or customers are traveling with you – “there are always people.”
It will be a historic flight in many ways. Jeff Bezos failed to take off before rival Richard Branson, but Oliver Daemen, the first paying passenger on a suborbital flight, is there. He will also become the youngest in space to date, the 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk, who invited Bezos on the flight, the oldest. In the 1960s, she belonged to the so-called “Mercury 13”, a group of women that NASA had selected for a possible space mission in the Mercury program, but for which only men were ultimately allowed to fly. Among them John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 and again in 1998 at the age of 77 for a few days with the space shuttle in space and has been the oldest astronaut ever since.
Interest in space tourism seems great
In general, Bezos seems to have a fancy for history-laden symbols: he chose July 20 as his start date, exactly 52 years after the first manned moon landing of Apollo 11, and named his rocket after the first. American astronaut in space, Alan. Shepard, who in 1961 also flew only a 15-minute suborbital flight.
If all goes well today, Blue Origin plans to launch two more flights with paying passengers in the fall. And the interest in entering space tourism seems great: the boss of Blue Origin spoke of 7,500 interested parties from 150 countries during the auction. According to her own information, Virgina Galactic already has 600 reservations that require a deposit. According to industry estimates, the airfare is expected to increase to $ 250,000.
Analysts are predicting a multibillion-dollar market by 2030, which Branson and Bezos want to skim as much as possible. Critics accuse them of wasting a lot of money regardless of the climate and largely without scientific research interests.