Blue Origin sees clear skies for inaugural space flight by Bezos and crewmates


FILE PHOTO: Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing/File Photo

(Reuters) -Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos and his three crewmates are engaging in a crash course of training on Sunday in preparation for his company Blue Origin's inaugural flight to the edge of space planned for Tuesday.

The suborbital launch from a site in the high desert plains of West Texas marks a crucial test for Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft, a 60-foot-tall (18.3 meters) and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that is central to plans by Bezos to tap a potentially lucrative space tourism market.

The planned 11-minute trip from the company's Launch Site One facility is set to include the oldest person ever to go to space - 82-year-old trailblazing female aviator Wally Funk - and the youngest - 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-blueorigin/teenager-to-fly-with-bezos-in-inaugural-space-tourism-flight-idUSKBN2EL1ZJ?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews. Joining them for Blue Origin's launch will be Bezos, the founder and current executive chairman https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/whats-next-amazons-bezos-look-his-instagram-2021-07-03 of Amazon.com Inc, and his brother Mark Bezos.

The mission https://www.blueorigin.com/news-archive/first-human-flight-updates would represent the world's first unpiloted flight to space with an all-civilian crew. Blue Origin, which will have none of its staff astronauts https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/bezos-blue-origin-make-history-with-unpiloted-civilian-space-flight-2021-07-14 or trained personnel onboard, expressed confidence at a briefing on Sunday.

"We are not currently working any open issues and New Shepard is ready to fly," Flight Director Steve Lanius said, adding that the weather forecast appeared favorable for the scheduled liftoff at 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) on Tuesday.

New Shepard is due to launch nine days after rival Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, successfully carried out a suborbital flight https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/virgin-galactics-branson-ready-space-launch-aboard-rocket-plane-2021-07-11 from New Mexico with the British billionaire inside its rocket plane.

Blue Origin's training program, according to the company, includes safety briefings, a simulation of the spaceflight, a review of the rocket and its operations, and instruction on how to float around the craft's cabin after the capsule sheds Earth's gravity.

Bezos and his crewmates had started the 14-hour program on Sunday and would be ready to "experience the flight of a lifetime", Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales at Blue Origin, said. Cornell said Funk was keen to do a few somersaults during the flight.

New Shepard, which cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft, is named for Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the first American in space during a suborbital flight as part of NASA's pioneering Mercury program.

New Shepard, like Virgin Galactic's flight, will not enter into orbit around Earth but will take the crew some 62 miles up (100 km) before the capsule returns by parachute. Virgin Galactic's flight reached 53 miles (86 km) above Earth.

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk's space transportation company, SpaceX, is pledging to go even higher in September, sending an all-civilian crew for a several-day orbital flight aboard its Crew Dragon capsule.

Illustrating tensions in the high-stakes "billionaire space race," Blue Origin has described Virgin Galactic as falling short of the 62-mile-high-mark (100 km) - called the Kármán line - set by an international aeronautics body as defining the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space.

The U.S. space agency NASA and the U.S. Air Force both define an astronaut as anyone who has flown higher than 50 miles (80 km), as Branson achieved with his flight.

Blue Origin's next flight would likely be at the end of September or early October, said Chief Executive Officer Bob Smith. Smith said the "willingness to pay continues to be quite high" for people interested in future flights.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; Editing by Will Dunham and Lisa Shumaker)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

   

Next In Tech News

Delete your Windows password: Microsoft rolls out log-in alternative
Electric cars have significantly higher repair costs, research shows
What to know: As robocalls get blocked, text messages could be next big thing for scammers
Those just-for-fun Facebook quizzes? Identity thieves might like them, too
Opinion: Media literacy the antidote to this infodemic
Google CEO sought to keep Incognito mode issues out of spotlight, lawsuit alleges
Brazil telecoms regulator says 5G auction rules to be published by Monday
Intel breaks ground on $20 billion Arizona plants as U.S. chip factory race heats up
Nexi exec says group interested in digital euro, no formal talks with ECB
Brazil sets 5G mobile auction for Nov 4, says minister

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers