Blue Origin launches today: six people will join a supersonic suborbital space tourism flight

Blue Origin launches today: six people will join a supersonic suborbital space tourism flight

The six passengers, who include a Blue Origin engineer and five paying customers, are scheduled to take off aboard their Blue Origin New Shepard capsule Thursday after 9:30 am ET.

Those interested in catching the action, which is expected to look a lot like Blue Origin’s three previous suborbital excursions, can tune in to Blue Origin’s webcast Thursday morning.

Propelled by a 60-foot-tall rocket, they will soar at more than three times the speed of sound, or more than 2,000 miles per hour. Your capsule will jump past the Kármán Line at 100 kilometers (or 62 miles) altitude, which is widely recognized as the altitude at which outer space begins. And at the height of the flight, they will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and, from their window, enjoy impressive views of the Earth.

It’s unclear how much the trip cost the five paying customers. Blue Origin has not publicly disclosed a fixed price point per seat, although it had auctioned a ticket for $28 million. But that was for a seat to ride alongside Bezos himself, and the auction winner didn’t end up going. (He’s scheduled to fly later this yearhowever.) Blue Origin’s direct competitor, Virgin Galactic, sells seats for $450,000.

This flight was scheduled to include Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, but he abandoned the mission after Blue Origin announced a schedule change earlier this month. The company cited the need for additional ground tests on the New Shepard rocket. as a reason for the delay.

Gary Lai, who has been with Blue Origin for 18 years and holds several patents related to the New Shepard rocket design, flew in Davidson’s place and was the only non-paying customer on the flight. Lai’s crewmates included Marty Allen, an investor, and the former CEO of a party supply store; Jim Kitchen, an entrepreneur and business teacher; George Nield, a former associate administrator for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation of the Federal Aviation Administration; Marc Hagle, a real estate developer orlandoand his wife, Sharon Hagle, who founded a space-focused nonprofit.

what does everything mean

Business activity in space — led largely by SpaceX – is booming. Of the building cheaper rockets and design new uses of satellites to imagine futuristic space hotelsthe industry has attracted record levels investment
After years of quiet development, Blue Origin’s space tourism rocket made its manned launch last year with Bezos, flying alongside a hero of the space community, Wally Funk, as well as his brother Mark Bezos and a paying customer.
Since then, Blue Origin made headlines for flying other household names on two subsequent flights, including the Star Trek star. William Shatner and host of Good Morning America michael strahan.

Blue Origin’s goal is to make suborbital spaceflight a mainstay of pop culture, providing a 10-minute supersonic ride to guests, who so far have been mostly celebrities, and anyone else who can afford it.

Blue Origin is the first company to begin offering regular suborbital space tourism flights. Its main competitor, Virgin Galactic, had its first manned flight, which included founder Richard Branson, before Bezos’ flight last July. But Virgin Galactic has yet to follow up that flight with another passenger flight after it later became clear that the company’s space plane had gone off its designated flight path. The company now says it is undergoing unrelated technology upgrades and may return to flying later this year.

SpaceX is the only private company offering trips to orbit. The company completed the first all-civilian flight into orbit last September, carrying a billionaire and three of his chosen crewmates on a three-day trip. And next week, the company plans to take four paying customers on a flight to the International Space Station, which orbits about 200 miles above Earth.
Blue Origin has plans to build a rocket powerful enough to reach orbit, called the New Glenn. And, in light of news that Russia can no longer sell rocket engines to the United States, those plans are more pressing than ever. The engines Blue Origin plans to use for New Glenn, the BE-4, will also be used in an upcoming launch vehicle designed by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing that is responsible for major US national security launches. ULA is currently based on Russian RD-180 engines. Its new rocket with US-made BE-4 engines is scheduled to make its debut this year.

Blue Origin had no specific updates on BE-4 when contacted for comment.

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