After 15 successful test flights without people on board, Blue Origin is set to put its spacecraft to the ultimate test: its first human spaceflight, with Bezos aboard. Also planning to be aboard for the expected 11-minute flight are his brother Mark, aerospace pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen for the flight to the edge of space.
His Amazon reputation preceding him, the 57-year-old Bezos hardly needs introduction. But his connection to, and passion for, spaceflight does. The e-commerce mogul grew up inspired by the Apollo lunar landings, and was heavily influenced by the teachings of space visionary Gerard O’Neill while studying at Princeton.
The company’s webcast is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, with liftoff expected at 9 a.m. ET. However, prior launches have had holds that delayed the launch by anywhere from a few minutes to about an hour, most often for weather or technical checks.
Blue Origin’s crew is scheduled to climb in the capsule half an hour before launch. About 20 minutes after the hatch closes, mission control will give the final all clear and then fire the rocket’s engine. New Shepard will steadily accelerate to more than three times the speed of sound and, after detaching from the booster, the capsule is expected to reach an altitude of more than 340,000 feet (or over 100 kilometers).
The 100 kilometers altitude is commonly called the Karman line, although the U.S. recognizes a lower boundary of 80 kilometers as the edge of space — and therefore, those who cross that mark are recognized by the government as astronauts. The disputed boundary of space has become a point of competitive contention between Bezos’ Blue Origin and Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Although the latter’s spacecraft reaches above 80 kilometers, it has yet to break the 100 kilometer mark — a difference Blue Origin has emphasized.
EDGE OF SPACE!