July was full of space news, culminating in the richest man on the planet, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, with his 11-minute flight into space. Like his fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk, Bezos invests his money in rocket development and pushes the boundaries of space tourism.
Blue Origin will set out on space just nine days after a similar flight was undertaken by Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic’s rocket technology development company.
Bezos’ first flight is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20. The mission is expected to start after 8:00 a.m. U.S. time, weather permitting.
1. Bezos rocket technology
However, Bezos’ technology is different from Branson’s. According to CNN, the Blue Origin rocket called New Shepard is a smaller suborbital rocket that launches vertically from the launch pad. This allows it to have a shorter but faster flight than the Virgin Galactic aircraft.
The New Shepard is designed to take passengers tens of kilometers above Earth, where they will be able to enjoy the view for a while. Even before the rocket took off with the crew, it completed 15 test flights without people on board.
The public will have the opportunity to watch the whole event live. Footage of the exterior of the rocket and the module will be visible. Images from the interior will not be published until you return.
2. Who will fly “Mr. Amazon”?
The New Shepard capsule can carry up to six people at a time, but at the premiere, Bezos will take only three more into space – its brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old astronaut Wally Funk. She is a member of the private Mercury 13 project, in which 13 women successfully underwent the same physiological screening tests that NASA astronauts had for the Mercury project (NASA’s first spaceflight program).
Bezos was originally scheduled to fly with a secret bidder who won a recent Blue Origin auction and agreed to pay $ 28 million for a rocket space. However, the company announced on Thursday that the winner of the flight auction would not participate due to a busy schedule. He will be replaced by a Daemen student whose father is the founder of the Dutch investment firm Joes Daemen and paid for his ticket.
3. What will the flight look like?
When we say space flight, most people will probably imagine trained astronauts hovering over Earth for several days. However, this is not the case with the Bezos brothers and their companions. It only flies up and returns immediately, in just about 11 minutes.
The flight itself should look like most of New Shepard’s test flights in recent years. The rocket will stand on the Blue Origin launch pad in rural Texas near Van Horn, about 120 miles east of El Paso.
The rocket can reach up to three times the speed of sound – about 3700 kilometers per hour. Shortly after the capsule and crew separate from the rocket, it switches to weightlessness for a while. Just before it hits Earth, New Shepard launches a large number of parachutes, which slow it to less than 32 kilometers per hour. Impacts inside the capsule will dampen the seats.
After the rocket separates from the manned section, it starts the engines again and uses computers to return to the ground and land again in an upright position. The landing looks similar to Falcon 9 missiles from Musk’s SpaceX company. However, these missiles are more powerful than the New Shepard, but also more prone to explosion on impact.
4. The struggle of billionaires for space
Billionaires Bezos, Musk and Branson have previously stated that they will not race together in space. But they are united by one thing – they all use their accumulated wealth from doing business in other fields to develop mostly commercial space flights.
SpaceX is much different from Blue Origin. It produces orbital rockets that consume large amounts of energy to fly at least 27,000 kilometers per hour, the so-called orbital speeds. Thanks to it, SpaceX rockets are able to launch satellites into Earth’s orbit or transport astronauts to the International Space Station and back.
Suborbital missiles such as the New Shepard do not need to reach such speeds. It is enough for her to reach an altitude of 100 kilometers, although she is supposed to fly higher. Blue Origin’s flight will therefore be similar to that undertaken by Virgin Galactic on June 11.
From the age of five, I dreamed of a journey into space.
5. How risky is a private rocket trip?
Historically, space travel offers many dangers and has often struggled with or ended in disaster. But Bezos apparently calculated that the risk was worth it. “I’ve dreamed of a journey into space since I was five,” Bezos wrote in an announcement on Instagram.
In the case of Bezos’ flight, it is said that there is no such risk as in the case of ordinary flights with astronauts. Blue Origin has dedicated the last decade to the development and successful testing of the rocket. In addition, because suborbital flights do not require as much energy, which means shorter burning times, less force and pressure, the crew is less in danger.