Flamboyant British mogul and Virgin Galactic company founder Richard Branson announced that he will fly into space on July 11 aboard the VCC Unity aircraft. In this way, he seeks to steal the glory from Jeff Bezos, whose first flight is scheduled for July 20. But his particular space race brings disagreements from the beginning.
Branson himself assures that there is no rivalry between him and the founder of Blue Origin.
Who will make it to space for real?
However, Bezos' space company, founded in 2000, appears to have taken Branson's plans seriously and even shared an infographic in which he showed that from a technical point of view ... he will not reach space. In the post, he explained that, unlike Blue Origin rockets, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo-class space planes are unable to fly above the so-called Karman line, located 100 kilometers above sea level, and considered the space border.
Only 4% of the world's population recognize the lower limit of 80 km as the beginning of space, writes Blue Origin, referring to the latest test of the Virgin Galactic space plane in which it only reached 89 kilometers in height.
Virgin Galactic will launch its spacecraft from a plane at an altitude of 88.5 kilometers, while Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket will try to soar to about 106.2 kilometers. It should be noted that NASA and the US Air Force designate people who travel above an altitude of 80 km as astronauts, so technically, both companies will reach the frontier of space.
Bezos's company also took the opportunity to list the disadvantages of Virgin Galactic ships: in particular, they lack exhaust systems and are 100 times more damaging to the ozone layer, and that is that their engines emit hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene and nitrogen oxides.
Both Bezos and Branson have invested billions of dollars in their space projects. However, unlike Blue Origin, which also plans to conduct joint missions with NASA, Branson's company, founded in 2004, has always focused on space tourism. VSS Unity aircraft are designed to carry people, and Virgin Galactic claims it already has more than 600 reservations.
What will Bezos and Branson's missions be like?
The July 11 mission will be the 22nd test for VSS Unity and the first flight to carry a full crew, including Branson himself. In 2018, the company achieved a historic milestone after one of its aircraft managed to reach space.
While Branson had planned to travel to the frontier of space in 2014 or 2015, he was forced to postpone the trip after a VSS Enterprise suffered an accident during a test flight in October 2014, resulting in the death of a pilot.
The VMS Eve mothership is expected to lift off from the Las Cruces space base in New Mexico and carry VSS Unity to about 10 miles above sea level. During the short journey, the crew will enter suborbital space and enjoy several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.
During the Blue Origin mission, Bezos, accompanied by his younger brother, Mark, the outstanding pilot Wally Funk, 82, and the winner of the public auction - who paid no more and no less than $ 28 million to go into space - will travel aboard the New Shepard rocket booster. It will then launch a capsule that will also spend several minutes in space and make a parachute landing. This will be the first manned mission for the rocket, which has already performed 14 test flights.
But how much could a space trip cost aboard Bezos or Branson's airships?
According to official data, the price of a seat could reach $ 250,000 for Virgin and $ 200,000 for Blue Origin, although the Branson company hopes to commercialize the flights by 2022 and thus drop to $ 40,000 per ticket.