Last week, Virgin Galactic successfully launched its Unity 22 mission, sending Sir Richard Branson, along with five others, space-bound to kick off the age of space tourism. Following this revolutionary event, fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos will head to space on July 20th with his Blue Origin company.
Joining the club
Subject to weather conditions, at 1pm UTC, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket will lift off from the West Texas desert with its first astronauts on board. Jeff’s brother, Mark, along with Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk will join the Amazon founder on this historic flight. Moreover, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen will be the first paying customer on the flight after a $28m (£20m) winning bidder shared that they could no longer make it.
Heading into the launch, Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, shared that 19 non-profits will each be offered a $1 million grant to inspire the youth to take on careers in STEM and help progress space exploration.
“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin in a statement.
“This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space.”
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Blue Origin was founded in September 2000 and has a workforce of approximately 3,500 people. This flight isn’t the only key project that the company has been recently working on. For instance, plans for a moon lander known as Blue Moon were unveiled in May 2019. The robotic space cargo carrier and lander is set to be ready by 2024.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo reached a maximum altitude of 85 km (53 mi). This figure is the exact altitude that the FAA and NASA deem to be space. However, Bezos and his team have their eyes on greater heights. The crew is targeting an altitude of 106 km (66 mi).
A game-changing era
Altogether, Blue Origin sees a future where millions are living and working in space to benefit life on Earth. The company feels that humanity needs to expand and explore space to preserve Earth amid the limited resources on the ground. Thus, the firm is developing fully reusable launch vehicles that operate with lower costs while offering versatility.
Two notable space launches are occurring over the course of a week. So, Blue Origin’s vision of a large space community is becoming more of a reality.
Catch the live broadcast of the launch from 11:30 UTC this Sunday at BlueOrigin.com.
Overall, what are your thoughts about the New Shepard first human flight mission? Are you excited about the big launch this Sunday? Let us know what you think of the program and its prospects in the comment section.