Just over a week after Richard Branson flew to the edge of space, Jeff Bezos, another billionaire, is planning a high-risk journey on his own rocket.
On Tuesday, July 20, Bezos will attempt to go to space on a rocket and capsule developed by Blue Origin, the Amazon founder's private space enterprise. It will be the first crewed launch for Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. If it succeeds, Bezos will become the first civilian to take part in an unpiloted suborbital flight.
The New Shepard rocket is launched from a site southeast of El Paso in the West Texas desert. The capsule will not enter orbit around Earth because it is a suborbital mission. Instead, it will reach the edge of space, at a height of roughly 65 miles, where passengers will experience several minutes of weightlessness.
CNN said the Amazon founder is scheduled to leave Earth on a rocket that will take him on a voyage like few others in history: a 2300 mph rocket ride to the planet's edge of atmosphere, where he'll stay for 11 minutes. The capsule will then drop through the air, landing in the Texas desert beneath parachutes.
The full launch will be aired live on Blue Origin's website for those who want to watch. Close-ups of the rocket's exteriors, as well as the capsule carrying Bezos and four other crew members, will be shown there by the space travel business. The launch is set for July 20 at 9 a.m. EDT (6 a.m. PDT), just a few days after Virgin Galactic's mission.
Jeff Bezos Space Trip: Who's On It?
The former CEO of Amazon will be traveling with three other people. However, one team member is regarded as the most important: retired aerospace pioneer Wally Funk.
Funk, who is now 82, was a member of an all-female astronaut training crew in the 1960s. She was meant to go to space as part of NASA's Mercury program, but she never made it because she and her colleagues were female.
Jeff Bezos invited Funk to join him on a space voyage, which the Amazon entrepreneur documented on his Instagram account. He went on to claim that no one had ever waited so long to travel to space. And if there is anyone who deserves such a distinction, it is Funk. She will become the oldest person in history to travel to space on July 20.
Mark Bezos, Bezos' brother, will also be on the journey, but the much-discussed wealthy passenger who paid $28 million for the airplane will not. Instead, the unknown bidder handed their slot to Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old who was the youngest person to go to space opposite Wally Funk.
What Will Happen on the Launch?
After a series of successful test flights, the spacecraft, called New Shepard (after Alan Shepard, the first American in space), will launch its first-ever crewed trip. WSB Atlanta said Blue Origin completed 15 test flights to space since 2015. This will be the spacecraft's 16th launch.
Bezos and his crew will launch from the launchpad at a higher height than Branson did previously: 66 miles above the Earth's surface to the internationally recognized space border known as the Karman Line. The passengers will be weightless for 3 to 4 minutes before strapping in for a parachute landing just 10 minutes after taking off.
Bezos' attempt to enter space follows Branson's perilous test flight on July 11 aboard a rocket-powered spaceship developed by Virgin Galactic, his private space firm. Unlike Virgin Galactic's Unity space aircraft, the New Shepard rocket and capsule are self-flying and do not require pilots.
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