Jeff Bezos’ Space Flight News is a live update on the company’s latest spaceflight news.
Jeff Bezos’ Space Flight News is a blog that provides live updates on the latest news in space.
Here’s what you should be aware of:
Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon, will go to the edge of space on a rocket system developed by his firm Blue Origin. CreditCredit… Reuters/REUTERS
Another millionaire with a rocket business is heading to space this week.
Richard Branson received his astronaut wings this week after flying in a space aircraft from Virgin Galactic, a business he established 14 years ago, to a height of more than 50 miles above the sky of New Mexico.
Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man, will strap into a capsule created by his rocket firm, Blue Origin, on Tuesday and blast off even higher, to more than 62 miles over West Texas.
Blue Origin had planned for the rocket to launch on Tuesday, July 20 at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The event will be covered live on the company’s YouTube account starting at 7:30 a.m., or you can watch it in the video player linked above. The occasion falls on the 52nd anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing.
The four passengers arrived at a bridge atop the launch pad just after 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, each striking a bell hanging at one end before crossing to the capsule. They then started boarding the capsule one by one, with assistance from support personnel. The capsule’s hatch was shut just before 8:45 a.m.
There was a brief pause in the countdown, which will most likely cause a little delay in the planned liftoff time.
While other space entrepreneurs have made Mr. Bezos’ business a point of contention in recent weeks, those rivals wished him and Blue Origin luck in the hours leading up to the launch. On Tuesday morning, SpaceX creator Elon Musk tweeted, “Best of luck” to Blue Origin. Mr. Bezos and his team were wished a “successful and safe flight” by Virgin Galactic on Monday.
Blue Origin’s spaceship, New Shepard, is named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space. It is made up of a booster and a capsule on top, which will house the passengers.
New Shepard, unlike Virgin Galactic’s space aircraft, is a conventional rocket that takes off vertically. When the booster’s fuel — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen — is depleted, the capsule separates from the rocket.
Both parts continue to rise, passing the 62-mile mark that is generally regarded as the start of outer space. Passengers will unbuckle and float about the capsule during this portion of the journey, enjoying approximately four minutes of free fall and viewing vistas of Earth and the darkness of space via the capsule’s huge windows.
The booster lands first and vertically, comparable to the Falcon 9 rockets’ touchdowns. Minutes after the rocket, the capsule lands, falling beneath a parachute and cushioned by a last-second burst of air. The flight should last approximately 10 minutes in total.
In October 2020, a New Shepard test landing is planned. Blue Origin is to thank for this.
New Shepard has been launched 15 times without anybody aboard, and each time the capsule has landed safely. (The rocket crashed on the first launch; the booster landed undamaged on the following 14 launches.)
During one flight in 2016, Blue Origin tested the rocket’s escape mechanism in flight, with thrusters whisking the capsule away from a faulty booster.
A solid-fuel rocket at the crew capsule’s bottom ignited for 1.8 seconds, generating 70,000 pounds of thrust and rapidly separating the capsule and steering it away from the booster. The capsule’s parachutes released, and it landed gently.
Not only did the capsule survive, but the rocket was also able to right itself, proceed to space, and eventually land a few miles north of the launchpad in West Texas, burned but unharmed.
Despite this, there are no federal rules governing the safety of passengers on a spaceship like New Shepard. The Federal Aviation Administration has not approved the rocket, unlike commercial passenger jetliners. Indeed, until 2023, the F.A.A. is barred from adopting any such regulations by law.
The argument is that new space firms like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic need a “learning time” to test out new designs and processes, and that imposing too much regulation too quickly will impede innovation and lead to better, more efficient designs.
Passengers must sign papers confirming their “informed permission” to the hazards, comparable to the forms required for skydiving or bungee jumping.
The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the safety of individuals who aren’t aboard the aircraft, ensuring that if anything goes wrong, the danger to the “uninvolved public” on the ground is minimal.
Mr. Bezos will be accompanied by his younger brother. Mark Bezos, 50, has led a more secluded existence. He is a co-founder and general partner of the private equity company HighPost Capital. Mark Bezos formerly served as the director of communications for the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City-based organization that supports anti-poverty initiatives.
One of the seats was auctioned off by Blue Origin, with the profits going to Club for the Future, Mr. Bezos’ space-focused organization. The successful bidder paid $28 million, but we still don’t know who it was.
In May of 2021, Oliver Daemen will be released. Daemen Family is to thank for this.
The firm stated last week that the auction winner had chosen to wait for a later trip “due to schedule conflicts.”
Instead, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who was one of the auction’s runners-up and had bought a seat on the second New Shepard trip, was moved up.
Mary Wallace Funk, also known as Wally, is the fourth passenger. She is a pilot who, in the 1960s, was one of a handful of women who met the same stringent standards that NASA used to pick astronauts.
Wally Funk, at the age of 82, will be the oldest person to ever go to space. But it isn’t what distinguishes her.
Ms. Funk and 12 other women were tested as part of the Woman in Space Program in 1961, three years before Jeff Bezos was born. Dr. William Lovelace had devised the exams for the Mercury astronauts. He intended to put women through the same tests to determine whether they were suitable for space travel.
Women who passed the first round of testing performed as well as or better than their male colleagues, and Ms. Funk stood out among them.
Today, these ladies are often referred to as the Mercury 13, but they were known as the FLATs: First Lady Astronaut Trainees.
None of those ladies have ever been to the moon. Just as the Cold War space competition was heating up, the US government shut down the program. Ms. Funk said that she was not disappointed when the show was discontinued.
“I was young and happy. Stephanie Nolen’s book “Promised the Moon” quotes her as saying, “I simply trusted it will arrive.” “If not today, then in a few months,” says the narrator.
She applied to be an astronaut four times over the years and was turned down each time because she lacked an engineering degree. When astronaut John Glenn was chosen for the Mercury program, he didn’t have an engineering degree either.
Right, Wally Funk will set the record for the oldest person to travel into space. Credit… Getty Images/Mark Ralston/Agence France-Presse
Ms. Funk has been searching for another route into space for the last 60 years.
“I was taught that if things don’t work out, you go to your backup,” she said.
Cady Coleman, a NASA astronaut who has been on the space shuttle and the International Space Station, sees a message for Ms. Funk and many other unsung women in space and aviation in the invitation.
“Wally, you’re important. And what you’ve accomplished is significant. And I respect you,” Dr. Coleman believes Mr. Bezos is saying. “When Wally flies, we all fly with her,” she says.
For many women and nonbinary individuals working in space and astronomy, however, the situation is more complicated.
“These individual tales and triumphs are significant, but they do not constitute justice,” said Lucianne Walkowicz, an astronomer at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.
Jeff Bezos was up intrigued by space as a kid during the Apollo period. “I’ve had a fascination with space since I was five years old,” he remarked in 2014. “I think it imprinted me when I saw Neil Armstrong walk onto the moon’s surface.”
But his early commercial endeavors took precedence over his devotion. Mr. Bezos, now 57, began his career on Wall Street before founding Amazon in 1994. He established Blue Origin, the business behind the spacecraft he is traveling in on Tuesday, six years later. But, as he turned Amazon from an online bookstore to one of the most powerful and feared retail powers ever, he spent the overwhelming majority of his time developing it — his “day job,” as he sometimes referred to it.
In recent years, he has taken a step back from Amazon, delegating more day-to-day duties to subordinates. He would devote one day a week to Blue Origin, generally on Wednesdays, and in 2017 he stated that he would sell $1 billion in Amazon shares each year to finance the space endeavor.
In 2017, Mr. Bezos spoke at the 3rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Credit… The New York Times’ Nick Cote
Mr. Bezos’ fortune continued to rise as a result of Amazon’s success, and in 2018, he overtook Bill Gates to become the world’s richest person. Booking flights to space quickly became the most expensive item on his shopping list.
After being chastised for not doing more to share his riches, he stated, “The only way I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by turning my Amazon profits into space flight.” He said, “The solar system can easily sustain a trillion people.” “If we had a trillion people, we’d have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts, as well as limitless resources and solar power for all practical purposes.”
“That is the world I want my great-great-grandchildren grandchildren’s to live in,” he added.
At the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, he temporarily returned to Amazon’s everyday operations. In February, however, he revealed his intention to stand down as Amazon’s CEO. One of his senior subordinates, Andy Jassy, took up the job earlier this month.
Mr. Bezos said that he intended to concentrate more on Blue Origin and his other businesses.
He told Amazon workers, “I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring.” “I am very enthusiastic about the potential effect that these groups may have.”
He is already on his way to space, two weeks after formally standing down.
Blue Origin auctioned off one of the seats on the inaugural trip, with the profits going to Jeff Bezos’ space-focused charity, Club for the Future. Even Blue Origin executives were surprised by the winning offer of $28 million, which was much more than they had anticipated. Blue Origin has announced that $19 million would be distributed to 19 space-related organizations, each receiving $1 million.
Blue Origin received a list of potential paying clients from the 7,600 individuals who attended the auction, and the firm has begun selling tickets for future trips.
Blue Origin has refused to reveal the pricing or the number of individuals who have signed up, but business officials claim there is considerable demand.
During a press briefing on Sunday, Bob Smith, the CEO of Blue Origin, remarked, “Our early flights are going for a very fair price.”
The firm said during the auction for the ticket on Tuesday’s trip that bidding participants may purchase a seat on future flights. It has not revealed publicly how much it charged individuals who made bids or how many tickets were sold.
Two more missions are scheduled for this year, according to Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales at Blue Origin. “As a result, we have already established a strong pipeline of prospective customers,” she said.
Around 600 individuals have already purchased tickets for Virgin Galactic, the other firm providing suborbital trips. The cost was initially $200,000, then increased to $250,000, but Virgin Galactic halted sales in 2014 when its first space aircraft crashed during a test trip. Officials at Virgin Galactic predict that sales will restart later this year, adding that the price would most certainly be more than $250,000.
The Blue Origin rocket factory at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the firm is building its New Glenn rocket. Credit… Reuters/Mike Blake
New Glenn (named after John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth) is a bigger rocket being developed by Blue Origin to launch satellites and other payloads. The maiden launch of New Glenn will take place no sooner than the second half of next year, after a two-year delay.
The rocket engine developed by Blue Origin for New Glenn will also power the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, which is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Vulcan’s maiden launch is scheduled for early next year, and it will transport a NASA-funded robotic lander to the moon.
Blue Origin was also the driving force behind a planned concept for a lander that would return NASA humans to the moon in the coming years. NASA had planned to choose two lander designs, but due to a lack of funding from Congress, NASA was forced to choose just one, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Blue Origin, together with Dynetics, the third firm in the competition, filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office over NASA’s decision. Early August is the deadline for a decision on the demonstrations.
Rick Tumlinson, a founding partner of the venture capital company SpaceFund, expects to get a glimpse of Jeff Bezos’s flight into space on Tuesday.
Mr. Tumlinson, who owns property near Blue Origin’s launch site in Van Horn, Texas, and witnessed Richard Branson’s journey on Virgin Galactic’s space aircraft last week, said, “To see two flights in two weeks is really the beginning of the tipping point.”
Mr. Tumlinson isn’t the only one who is ecstatic. Mr. Bezos’ and Mr. Branson’s suborbital flights, according to space start-up founders and investors, are generating more interest in the space sector. They dismiss accusations that Mr. Bezos, Mr. Branson, and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk are investing billions of dollars in the private space race.
Their high-profile launches occur at a time when venture capitalists are pouring money into space start-ups, allowing firms to concentrate on making satellites smaller and launches more affordable. According to the space analytics company BryceTech, space start-ups raised more than $7 billion in 2020, more than twice as much as two years before, and are on course to do so again this year.
On July 11, the Virgin Galactic spaceship VSS Unity, which carried Richard Branson and his crew, started its climb to the edge of space near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Reuters/Virgin Galactic/Virgin Galactic
“The big news today is that they’re going to send people in space,” said Charles Miller, CEO of Lynk, a satellite internet startup. Successful commercial space businesses, on the other hand, he thinks, would help mankind by making it simpler to send people and satellites into orbit.
He went on to say, “It’s going to have a tremendous effect on life on Earth.”
According to investors and entrepreneurs, space technology is a tiny, close-knit sector consisting of individuals who have spent decades working for the wider interest and attention the business is now receiving. For many of them, the appearance of competition between Mr. Bezos, Mr. Branson, and Mr. Musk is a good for the sector rather than an opportunity to choose sides.
“Everyone woke up very early to see Branson, and everyone will be watching Bezos’ trip with bated breath,” said Lisa Rich, a co-founder of Hemisphere Ventures and the orbital mission business Xplore.
“We all root for one other,” Tim Ellis, CEO of Relativity Space, a 3D-printed rocket start-up, said.
Jeff Bezos’ blue origin flight is a live update on the progress of Blue Origin’s first rocket launch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who was on Bezos flight today?
The plane was carrying Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos.
Did Jeff Bezos make it to space today?
No, Jeff Bezos did not make it to space today.
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