Little by little, we are approaching the day when it will be possible to travel into space without having a specific profession or years of training. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin are working on their plans to boost tourist travel into space. Richard Branson's company carried out an important test last weekend and on July 20 it will be the turn of Jeff Bezos's company, which has just received approval from the air authorities.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States approved Blue Origin's first manned rocket trip that will feature company founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and three other passengers.
If all goes according to plan, the New Shepard rocket booster and capsule, with astronauts on board, will lift off at an altitude beyond 100 kilometers (62 miles). The thruster will eventually separate from the capsule and attempt to land on Earth, while the capsule will carry the crew to the Kármán line, beyond the edge of space, and then descend to the ground carried by a triple parachute system.
To obtain FAA certification, Blue Origin had to verify the operation of its technology, hardware, and software, of the New Shepard during its NS-15 test flight carried out on April 14, 2021.
By the way, the New Shepard rocket was named after Alan Shepard, the second human and the first American to go into space. This fully reusable ship model is 18 meters long and 4 meters wide that takes off and lands vertically (VTVL). Its flights are suborbital, designed to take passengers on a simple ascent and descent trajectory, reaching a height greater than 100 km above the Earth's surface.
The rocket will take off from a desert area in Van Horn, in western Texas, where the test flights have been carried out.
Despite being a short flight, the crew will be able to experience microgravity for about three minutes at the highest point. You will also be able to see the curve of the Earth on the horizon against the darkness of space.
Billionaires fulfilling their dream
Bezos will be one of the billionaires who will fulfill his dream of going into space. When he announced that he would be one of the passengers, he wrote on his Instagram that flying into space was something he wanted to do "all my life." And then he added in a video: "On July 20, I will undertake that journey with my brother," he declared in a video on his Instagram account. "The greatest adventure, with my best friend."
But he's not the only one. In fact, Richard Branson was the first to travel. On July 11, he was one of the passengers on board the SpaceShipTwo Spaceship of his company Virgin Galactic and, after his return, he commented: “I think that, like most children, I have dreamed of this moment, but, honestly, nothing could prepare you for the view of the Earth from space. "
However, there is a controversy about these flights since the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft reached an altitude of 53.5 miles when the Kármán line (the formal demarcation by space) is 62 miles, so there are those who point out that, in reality, it cannot be considered that have reached space. That is why Blue Origin claims that it will actually be the first company to offer true space travel.
But still neither company will put passengers into orbit, unlike SpaceX, which is set to do a true orbital flight with passengers on board later this year. His idea is to take the passengers in a Crew Dragon capsule that will go into orbit for a few days.
Although it must be said the prices are very different: Virgin Galactic customers pay $ 250,000 for a ticket to the edge of space, Blue Origin space tourists are expected to pay around 500,000, while SpaceX customers will pay about $ 55 million for a 10-day mission to the ISS.