Blue Origin prepare for first human flight on New Shepard
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Blue Origin is pencilled in for a historic flight at 2pm BST today at the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas, US. The space tourism firm will launch Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to the edge of space on what promises to be the ride of a lifetime. Today’s launch arrives just nine days after Mr Bezos was upstaged by Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s own suborbital escapade.
Mr Bezos and his select crew of three guests will launch aboard Blue Origin’s signature New Shepard rocket.
The rocket will propel the soon-to-be astronauts to the edge of space, allowing the crew to experience a few minutes of weightlessness.
Blue Origin confirmed the crew have completed their training and the launch is “on track” for a 2pm BST liftoff.
Express.co.uk explains everything you need to know about today’s milestone mission.
Who is on the crew of the Blue Origin launch today?
Blue Origin’s launch marks only the second time a billionaire will fly into space using a privately built spacecraft.
The launch also marks the very first time a paying customer will fly on a private vessel.
The paying customer is 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, whose ticket was purchased by his millionaire father, Joes Daemen.
Although civilians have flown into space before, this has never been done through private enterprise.
Today’s crew are:
- Jeff Bezos, 57 – Founder of Amazon and Blue Origin
- Mark Bezos, 53 – Co-founder of HighPost Capital
- Oliver Daemen, 18 – Son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO, Joes Daemen
- Wally Funk, 82 – Aviation instruction, FAA investigator and Mercury 13 astronaut candidate
Blue Origin: Jeff Bezos discusses his hopes for space travel
How high will Blue Origin fly today?
Mr Bezos and company will launch today above the so-called Karman line.
Although there is no agreed-upon border of space, most of the world considers space to begin at the Karman line, 62 miles up (100km).
The Earth’s atmosphere extends much farther than 62 miles but at this point, orbital mechanics start to overtake aerodynamics.
According to the American standard, space begins at 50 miles up (86km) and that is the altitude reached by Virgin Galactic’s space tourism service.
Within parts of the US space agency NASA, however, space begins more than 70 miles up.
This was typically the point where the Space Shuttle would engage its orbital thrusters.
In practical terms, however, all four crewmembers of Blue Origin’s flight will earn their astronaut wings today.
And when that happens, Ms Funk will become the world’s oldest astronaut and Mr Daemen will become the youngest.
New Shepard will fly the crew above the Karman line and detach from the four astronauts inside of a safe capsule.
The rocket will then return to Earth, using its single thruster to attempt a soft landing at Launch Site One.
The mission’s crew, meanwhile, will have a chance to experience the magic of weightlessness.
The capsule will then dive back down to Earth and engage its parachutes before hitting the ground.
Blue Origin tweeted: “#NewShepard’s flight profile lasts approximately 11 minutes from launch to capsule landing.
“Astronauts will experience three to four minutes of zero-g and travel above the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.”
Should everything go according to plan, Blue Origin will host a post-launch press briefing where the astronauts will discuss their experience.
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