Tencent science and technology news on July 17, space company Blue origin plans to launch its first manned space flight with the new Shepard rocket and capsule next Tuesday, and launch the billionaire founder Jeff Bezos into space.
It was the first manned flight of blue origin and the 16th launch of the new Shepard rocket. Bezos and three other civilian astronauts will launch from blue origin launch site 1 near Van Horn, Texas, at 9 a.m. EDT, a milestone for the company.
When will the rocket launch?
If all goes according to plan, the launch will be broadcast live on the blue origin website at 7:30 a.m. EST on July 20. The new Shepard rocket is expected to launch at 9 a.m. EST, but it may be adjusted according to weather conditions or technical problems.
The new Shepard rocket will take 11 minutes from lift off to landing. After the capsule landing, the blue origin official website will also broadcast live the astronauts out of the capsule.
Blue origin has yet to announce whether it will hire well-known hosts like its rival Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic invited comedian and late night show host Stephen Colbert to host the live broadcast when it launched founder Richard Branson into space on July 11.
Normally, the altitude of the new Shepard rocket is much higher than the Carmen line, which is 100 km above the ground, which is an internationally recognized space boundary. After separation from the capsule, the rocket will automatically return to the launch point and land, while the capsule will land with three parachutes.
Who are the passengers in this manned space flight?
Bezos and blue origin staff celebrated after a successful launch
The first manned flight of the new Shepard rocket will carry four passengers. Because the capsule is equipped with an automatic system, there is no need for a professional pilot in the capsule. The four passengers include:
Now 57, Jeff Bezos. Bezos founded blue origin in 2000 and made a lot of money through its e-commerce Amazon.
Mark Bezos is 53 years old. Mark is Bezos’s younger brother. He has become a millionaire by virtue of his personal ability. Mark is reported to have been an advertising executive and a member of the Management Committee of Robin Hood, an anti-poverty nonprofit.
Wally funk is 82 years old. As a legendary female pilot, Fink is one of the members of the famous “Mercury 13” program. In the early stages of the U.S. space program, NASA conducted rigorous astronaut tests on these women. After the completion of the manned space flight, Fink will defeat the late mercury astronaut John Glenn to become the oldest person to complete the space flight. In 1998, Glen took NASA’s space shuttle Discovery and went into space for the second time at the age of 77.
The 18-year-old is Oliver Damon. Damon, a physics major, plans to study at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Damon will defeat gherman Titov, a 25-year-old astronaut who took part in the Soviet Union’s Orient II mission in 1962, to become the youngest astronaut in the space mission. Damon is a passenger on the next flight of blue origin. An anonymous passenger paid $28 million to bid for a seat on blue origin’s first space flight, but was replaced by Dimon due to a change in itinerary.
On July 15, just five days before the launch, blue origin announced Damon’s participation in the space flight. Blue origin said at the time that the winner of the auction “had chosen to participate in the follow-up mission of the new Shepard rocket due to the conflict of itinerary”.
According to reports, Dimon’s father, Joe Damon, was chosen to take the flight because he was the second highest bidder in all seats auctioned at blue origin. According to reports, as the chief executive of a private equity company, Dimon later gave the right to his son Oliver.
What is the mission of this space flight?
On April 14, 2021, the test flight path of the new Shepard rocket and capsule
The new Shepard rocket launch system is named after Mercury mission astronaut Alan Shepard. The latter was the first American to enter space in 1962.
Before the launch on July 20, the new Shepard rocket had conducted 15 unmanned tests, the most recent of which was on April 14. Before the launch, the new Shepard rocket conducted an astronaut boarding exercise. The new Shepard rocket is about 18 meters high and is designed to send passengers into suborbital space to experience weightlessness for about three minutes.
The flight usually lasts 11 minutes, and the new Shepard rocket will return to the launch pad automatically by using ring and wedge flaps. The astronauts’ capsule will return to the ground with the help of parachutes.
The capsule on board the new Shepard rocket can hold up to six people and is equipped with large portholes for astronauts to enjoy the earth and space scenery. The capsule can not only carry passengers, but also carry out scientific experiments. Blue origin hopes to eventually let paying companies use microgravity environment to carry out research in manufacturing, physics or biology.
What will astronauts of blue origin experience?
Like all space flights, crew members will face high risks. 11 minutes of space flight can make astronauts feel overweight, especially during launch and landing. The capsule will also remain weightless for a few minutes at the top of the flight path.
Other information about the space flight experience can also be obtained from the terms of the blue origin capsule seat auction document released earlier this year. The document said the crew must be able to “wear one-piece zippered flight suits” and climb up the launch tower about seven stories high in 90 seconds.
Crew members need to climb up the capsule at the top of the tower before launch, and then sit in reclining seats 40 to 90 minutes before launch. In case of emergency, the crew member needs to unfasten the safety belt within 15 seconds.
Blue origin also specially publicized the huge porthole of the capsule, saying passengers can see the beautiful scenery through the porthole at any time. “These portholes make up a third of the total external area of the capsule and allow you to immerse yourself in the vast space and earth landscape,” the company said in 2018
Can this flight really reach space?
The view through the huge porthole of the blue origin capsule
Recently, the two companies have been competing for customers before and after rival Virgin Galactic sent billionaire founder Branson to the edge of space on July 11. Branson denied there was competition between the two companies, but Bezos did not respond. Just a few days before Branson’s launch, blue Genesis specially released an information chart, emphasizing that taking the blue Genesis capsule has more advantages than buying the seats of Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
The biggest debate between the two companies is whether Virgin Galactic astronauts actually arrived in space. The design goal of the VSS unity spacecraft is to rise to an altitude of 80 km above the ground, which is the space boundary recognized by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In contrast, the new Shepard rocket capsule has an altitude of more than 100 kilometers, higher than the internationally recognized Carmen line.
Over the years, the origin of blue has repeatedly emphasized the Carmen line. “Our mission has always been to fly over the Carmen line, because we don’t want an asterisk next to your name to question whether you are a real astronaut,” Bezos said in 2019“ In my opinion, this is a problem that they (Virgin Galactic) have to solve. ”
Where will the rocket be launched from?
Blue origin will launch the new Shepard rocket from launch site 1. The launch site is located in a remote area of the desert in western Texas, about 40 kilometers from the town of Van Horn. Most of the area is desert shrub. A few hours before the launch, the crew had a spectacular view of the desert at the top of the tower.
The area is usually closed to tourists. According to blue origin, the nearby interstate 54 will also be closed during the launch.
From the video released earlier, the launch site is decorated with a feather sign of blue origin. All paying passengers have the opportunity to visit the capsule they will be in at nearby facilities. The crew will receive some training in the facility before flight.
When can ordinary people take the blue origin capsule?
On April 14, 2021, the new Shepard rocket was launched
Blue origin has yet to announce a follow-up launch plan, nor has it said when it will start sending passengers into space on a regular basis. It was not until Dimon’s ranking in the space tour was advanced that blue origin publicly disclosed that the new Shepard rocket had a second flight plan. Therefore, for some time in the future, other participants bidding for seats may have a place in future flights.
Users can register their interest in space flight on the blue origin website. The company promises: “when we start to book seats, you will get the price and other relevant information in advance.”
So far, blue origin has not announced the price of ordinary paying users. In contrast, the Virgin Galactic spacecraft costs $250000 per seat（ (translated by Tencent technology / Jiao Han)