Jeff Bezos is going to space — and you can watch him go along for the ride.
On Tuesday, July 20, the founder of spaceflight firm Blue Origin will lift off on his company’s first crewed mission.
Bezos will beat SpaceX founder Elon Musk in personally going to space himself. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson arguably beat them both when he flew on his firm’s first fully-crewed flight earlier this month — though that depends on your definition of space.
It could offer a big boost to space tourism. With Blue Origin planning to offer short, suborbital flights for an as-yet-undisclosed price, more people may soon get to experience views of the Earth from above.
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Blue Origin flight: who are the passengers?
Blue Origin will send up four passengers on the first mission.
- Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin and one of the world’s richest men.
- His brother Mark. Jeff announced that the pair would fly in a video shared on June 7.
- Wally Funk, an aviator known as one of the “Mercury 13,” women who tested for spaceflight in the 1960s. Funk will be the oldest person to fly into space at 82 years old, beating John Glenn who flew at age 77 in 1998. Blue Origin announced the plan on July 1.
- Oliver Daeman, who at 18 years old will be the youngest person to fly to space.
The winner of the $28 million auction, which ended on June 12, was originally expected to fly on this mission. They will now be flying on a subsequent mission due to a scheduling conflict. Daeman, who had placed a bid in the auction and subsequently purchased a seat on a future flight, will instead take the winner’s place.
The winner has yet to be announced. The money will be donated to the firm’s foundation Club for the Future aimed at inspiring future generations toward science, technology, engineering, and medicine.
Although this mission is sending up four astronauts, the capsule has space for six.
Blue Origin flight: what is the plan for the mission?
The crew will fly on the New Shepard rocket, named after Alan Shepard who became the first American to go to space in 1961. The ship uses the BE-3 engine, fueled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, to create 110,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff. It takes off and lands vertically. When it comes down for the landing, it generates around 20,000 pounds of thrust.
The mission will use the fourth New Shepard booster, which first flew in January 2021 and flew again in April 2021.
With the January 2021 mission, aimed at improving the in-flight systems, Blue Origin released a diagram of how the flights work:
These flights will send the capsule up to around 250,000 feet, at which point the rocket will separate from the capsule. The rocket will come back to the landing pad around two miles from the launch pad.
The capsule will continue up to around 65 miles altitude, three miles past the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman line. The crew will experience around three minutes of weightlessness before descending. Three parachutes will cushion the capsule for a soft landing.
Blue Origin claims the flight will last around 11 minutes total.
Blue Origin flight: why is the launch date so significant?
Space fans may recognize July 20 as rather significant — 52 years ago, in 1969, the Apollo 11 crew first set foot on the Moon.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Bezos chose that date specifically because of the anniversary. That, combined with the Wally Funk and New Shepard news, shows how Blue Origin engages with space history in its work.
Blue Origin flight: how to watch and livestream time
The launch will start broadcasting on Tuesday, July 20, at the following times:
- 4:30 a.m. Pacific time.
- 6:30 a.m. Central time.
- 12:30 p.m. British Summertime.
- 9:30 p.m. Australian Eastern time.
The launch is currently scheduled for:
- 6 a.m. Pacific time.
- 8 a.m. Central time.
- 9 a.m. Eastern time.
- 2 p.m. British Summertime.
- 11 p.m. Australian Eastern time.
Unfortunately, there will be no on-site viewing locations available. Texas’ Department of Transportation is even closing a section of state highway 54 to avoid fans parking up to watch.
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