Jeff Bezos’ space flight: here’s everything you need to know

But Bezos’ flight and the technology his company developed to get him there is very different from Branson’s. Blue Origin’s New Shepard is a small suborbital rocket that takes off vertically from a launch pad, providing a shorter but faster experience than the air-launched space plane created by Branson’s Virgin Galactic. But just like the Virgin Galactic plane, New Shepard is designed to fly paying customers over tens of kilometers above the Earth’s surface for moments of weightlessness and panoramic views of Earth.

New Shepard performed 15 automated test flights with no one on board, and Bezos announced in early June that he intended to participate in the first-ever crewed flight, which is scheduled for July 20.
The public will be able to see it all unfold on Blue Origin’s direct, where it will show exterior shots of the rocket and the capsule soaring into the cosmos. (Photos of the interior – and Bezos’ facial expressions – won’t be released until after the flight.) Missions are scheduled to begin after 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, weather permitting.

CNN Business will share the livestream and host a live blog with updates.

Here’s everything you need to know before the big event.

Who go?

While the New Shepard capsule can carry up to six people, Bezos takes just three more on this maiden voyage. They include his brother, Mark Bezos; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women; and an 18-year-old high school graduate named Oliver Daemen.
Bezos was supposed to fly alongside a mystery bidder who won a recent Blue Origin auction by agreeing to pay $ 28 million for a seat on the flight, but the company announced Thursday that the person, who asked remain anonymous for now, had to bow out because of “scheduling conflicts”. Daemen – whose father, founder of Dutch investment firm Joes Daemen, paid for his ticket – will fly in place of the auction winner.

What’s going to happen ?

When most people think of spaceflight, they think of an astronaut circling the earth, floating in space, for at least a few days.

This is not what the Bezos brothers and their traveling companions will do.

They’ll go up and down, and they’ll do it in less time, about 11 minutes, than it takes most people to get to work.

Visually, Blue Origin’s livestream will look pretty much like most New Shepard test launches from years past: the rocket and capsule will be laid on a launch pad at Blue Origin’s private facilities in rural Texas – near Van Horn, which is approximately 120 miles east of El Paso.

New Shepard’s suborbital fights reach about three times the speed of sound – about 2,300 miles per hour – and fly straight upward until the rocket spends most of its fuel. The crew capsule will then separate from the rocket at the top of the flight path and continue upward briefly before the capsule hovers almost at the top of its flight path, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. It works much like an extended version of the weightlessness you experience when you reach the top of a roller coaster hill, just before gravity brings your cart – or, in Bezos’ case, your space capsule – back into the sky. shouting down to the ground.
A graphic that shows the flight profile of Blue Origin's New Shepard.
The New Shepard capsule then deploys a large plume of parachutes to slow its descent to less than 20 miles per hour before touching the ground, and Bezos and his fellow travelers will be even more cushioned by shock absorbing seats.
The rocket, flying separately after detaching from the capsule carrying humans, will then re-ignite its engines and use its on-board computers to perform an accurate vertical landing. The booster landing looks like what SpaceX does with its Falcon 9 rockets, although those rockets are much more powerful than New Shepard and – yes – more. likely to explode on impact.
A handful of media will also be allowed to attend the launch and interview Bezos and other passengers after landing. CNN Business reporters will be on the ground during the flight and post live updates to our site.

How is this different from what SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are doing?

Bezos’ flight will come just nine days after British billionaire Richard Branson took his own supersonic ride to the edge of space, following a surprise announcement made by his space company, Virgin Galactic, days after Bezos announced his intention to go to space.

The two men’s companies – and their PR machines – have since entered a public exchange, though the billionaires themselves have said they don’t want to run to become the first to soar into space at aboard a ship they helped finance. .

But suborbital space tourism isn’t all Branson and Bezos pursue with their space businesses. It is also not the largest or most important sector of the booming commercial space industry.

Branson, Musk, and Bezos, however, have all been compared for years because of their similarities – the three have used fortunes accumulated in other industries to pursue space-focused businesses. Here’s how they break down:

For years, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been making headlines and breaking records with his rocket technology – and it’s very different from what Blue Origin will debut on Tuesday.

First of all, SpaceX is building orbital rockets. Orbital rockets need to generate enough power to reach at least 17,000 miles per hour, or what’s known as orbital speed, essentially giving a spacecraft enough energy to keep spinning around Earth instead. than being immediately dragged down by gravity. This is how SpaceX is able to put satellites into orbit or transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Suborbital flights, however, don’t need to travel that fast. They need only reach an altitude above the 50 mile mark – which the U.S. government considers to be the limit of outer space – or the 62 mile mark, which is internationally considered the line of demarcation. (New Shepard is expected to be over 62 miles.)

What New Shepard does on Tuesday will be more like what Richard Branson – the other, other space billionaire – plans to do with his company, Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic also plans to launch wealthy tourists into the suborbital space, although it has developed a very different vehicle to get there. Rather than an autonomous rocket that takes off vertically, Virgin Galactic has built a manned space plane that takes off from a runway (much like an airplane) attached to a huge winged mothership.

Virgin Galactic performed its own test flights and Branson became the first billionaire to fly into space on a rocket he helped fund on July 11.

Is it risky?

Space travel is historically fraught with dangers. While the risks aren’t necessarily astronomical for Bezos’ escape into suborbital space, as his space company Blue Origin has spent most of the past decade leading New Shepard through a series of successful test flights. .

Suborbital flights also require significantly less power and speed than orbital rockets. This means less time the rocket is needed to burn, lower temperatures scorching the exterior of the spacecraft, less force and compression tearing the spacecraft, and generally less chance of something going wrong.

Still, any time a human attaches to a rocket, there are risks – and Bezos has apparently calculated that, for him, it’s worth it.

“Since I was five years old, I have dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos wrote in his June announcement on Instagram.

About Theresa Burton

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