By Eric M. Johnson
VAN HORN, Texas (Reuters) -Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, is set to take off on Tuesday aboard his company Blue Origin New Shepard https://graphics.reuters.com/SPACE-EXPLORATION/BLUEORIGIN/jbyprzzympe / blue- origin.jpg launch vehicle for a suborbital flight as part of a historic crew, another milestone in the beginning of a new era of private space travel.
The American billionaire will fly from a desert place in West Texas on an 11-minute journey to the edge of space, nine days after Britain’s Richard Branson was aboard the successful maiden suborbital flight of his competing space tourism company Virgin. Galactic https: // www .reuters.com / lifestyle / science / virgin-galactics-branson-ready-space-launch-aborard-rocket-plane-2021-07-11 from New Mexico.
Branson got to space first, but Bezos must fly higher, 62 miles (100 km) for Blue Origin compared to 53 miles (86 km) for Virgin Galactic, in what experts call the first https: //www.blueorigin. of the world. com / news-archive / first-human-flight-updates Pilotless space flight with an all-civilian crew.
Bezos, founder of e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc, and his brother and private equity executive Mark Bezos will join two others on the flight. Pioneering aviator Wally Funk https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/trailblazing-female-pilot-will-go-space-age-82-with-jeff-bezos-2021-07-01, 82, and Oliver Daemen, fresh out of high school https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-blueorigin/teenager-to-fly-with-bezos-in-inaugural-space-tourism-flight-idUSKBN2EL1ZJ ? feedType = RSS & feedName = technologyNews, 18, will become the oldest and youngest people ever to reach space.
“I’m excited, but not anxious. We’ll see how I feel when I’m tied to my seat,” Bezos said in an interview with Fox Business Network on Monday. “… We are ready. The vehicle is ready. This team is amazing. I feel great about it. And I think my crewmates feel good too.”
Funk was part of the group of women called Mercury 13 who trained to become NASA astronauts in the early 1960s, but was ignored for her gender.
Daemen, Blue Origin’s first paying customer, will attend Utrecht University in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management in September. His father runs the investment management company Somerset Capital Partners.
Barring technical or weather-related delays, New Shepard will take off around 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) from the facilities of Blue Origin Launch Site One, about 20 miles (32 km) from the rural town of Van Horn in Texas.
New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall (18.3-meter-tall) fully autonomous rocket and capsule combo that cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft. It is completely computer controlled and will not have any of the Blue Origin 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 on board.
In contrast, Virgin Galactic used a space plane with a couple of pilots on board.
New Shepard will launch at speeds in excess of 2,200 miles (3,540 km) per hour at an altitude of approximately 62 miles (100 km), the so-called Kármán line established by an international aeronautical body that defines the boundary between the atmosphere and space of the earth.
During the flight, the crew will unzip for a few minutes of weightlessness and once again look at the curvature of the Earth through what Blue Origin calls the largest windows ever used in space travel. The capsule is then dropped back to Earth under a parachute, using a last-minute pushback system that ejects an “air pillow” for a soft landing at 1 mph (1.6 km / h) in the Texas desert. .
The reusable thruster must be returned to the launch pad using drag brakes and ring and wedge fins for stabilization.
Tuesday’s launch marks another milestone in the “multi-million dollar race” to establish a space tourism sector that Swiss investment bank UBS estimates will reach $ 3 billion annually in a decade. Another billionaire tech mogul, Elon Musk, plans to send an all-civilian crew on an even more ambitious flight in September: a multi-day orbital mission in his Crew Dragon capsule.
On Twitter, Musk wished https://bit.ly/2TqOL9I the Blue Origin team “good luck” for the launch.
Blue Origin has not offered details on its longer-term pricing strategy or how quickly it will increase the frequency of its releases. Chief Executive Officer Bob Smith has said the next flight is likely to be in September or October. Smith said “willingness to pay is still pretty high” for people interested in future flights.
The company appears to have a pool of future clients. More than 6,000 people from at least 143 countries participated in an auction to become the first paying customer, although the auction winner who made a bid of $ 28 million eventually left Tuesday’s flight.
Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, has a net worth of $ 206 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index https://www.bloomberg.com/billionaires. He resigned this month as CEO of Amazon, but remains its chief executive.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Van Horn, Texas; Additional reporting by Radhika Anilkumar; Editing by Will Dunham)
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