Bezos' Blue Origin to make history with unpiloted civilian space flight

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Yahoo News 14 July, 2021 - 02:10pm 33 views

Is Jeff Bezos going to space?

A typical New Shepard flight lasts 11 minutes, and a live broadcast with the astronauts will be available at BlueOrigin.com after the landing, Blue Origin said in a press release Monday (July 12). ... Space.comBlue Origin will launch billionaire Jeff Bezos into space on July 20. Here's how to watch.

Where is Jeff Bezos launching from?

Jeff Bezos to launch himself into space on Blue Origin rocket in July. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Jeff Bezos' rocket company has gotten government approval to launch people into space, himself included. NBC NewsBezos' Blue Origin gets OK to send him, 3 others to space

When is Richard Branson going into space?

Richard Branson is going to space The space tourism company Virgin Galactic successfully launched its founder Richard Branson and five other crewmembers into suborbital space on July 11, 2021 in a milestone mission that marked the first fully crewed flight of its VSS Unity space plane. Space.comIn photos: Virgin Galactic's 1st fully crewed spaceflight with billionaire Richard Branson

Only a week or so after Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson earned his astronaut wings, another extremely wealthy human is set to make the journey to space. On July 20, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will strap into a rocket built by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin. Alongside him will be his brother Mark, aeronautics pioneer Wally Funk and an as-yet unannounced auction winner, on July 20. 

The mission is the culmination of almost two decades of rocket science, with the company officially emerging in 2015 and revealing its reusable rocket, New Shepard, to the world. After six years and 15 test flights, it's now ready to carry humans to the cosmic shoreline, have them stare into infinity and bring them safely back to Earth. And Bezos is first in line to test the experience.

On Monday, the company cleared one of its last hurdles, receiving the official blessing of the US Federal Aviation Administration to carry passengers to space.

Here's when and how you can watch the historic first crewed Blue Origin launch.

The flight is scheduled for Tuesday, June 20, and Blue Origin's coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. PT (7:30 a.m. ET). For those who need a little extra sleep in on the US West Coast, liftoff is targeted for 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. ET).

You can watch live at BlueOrigin.com, but if there's a livestream link, we'll have it right here for you. CNET Highlights, on YouTube, will also have all the latest and greatest from the west Texas desert, where the launch will occur. 

What about other time zones across the globe? Here's when you can catch liftoff:

Named for the first American astronaut to head into space, Alan Shepard, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket has completed 15 flights to date. This, the 16th mission, is known as NS16. 

The rocket has seen two major iterations since it first flew on April 29, 2015, but it will be New Shepard 4 that flies Bezos to the edge of infinity.  

Bezos and crewmates, including Funk, who went through astronaut testing in the early 1960s, will be lying inside a crew capsule, shaped like a gumdrop, for their ascent to space. The pressurized crew capsule boasts the "largest windows in space," according to Blue Origin, and has space enough for six astronauts. It does not require any pilots -- all of the flying work is done by onboard computers.

In the event of an emergency, the crew capsule can separate at anytime from the booster rocket, deploy parachutes and glide safely back to Earth. Here's hoping such a separation isn't required.

Richard Branson, the 70-year-old billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, launched beyond the stratosphere inside VSS Unity, Galactic's space plane on July 11. The headlines said it all: "Branson Beats Jeff Bezos to space," read one in The New York Times. 

Both Branson and Bezos are selling the dream of spaceflight to private citizens, attempting to open up a space tourism sector that will see "everyone" able to take short suborbital trips. However, the trips aren't cheap. Tickets on Virgin Galactic's space plane cost $250,000 before sales were suspended after a crash in 2014. According to The New York Times, when sales reopen, they could be more expensive. It's not clear how much a ticket aboard Blue Origin's rocket will cost at this point, but one seat sold for $28 million at auction. 

From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week.

The tagline for many space tourism missions seems to be about opening space access to everybody, but the six- and seven-figure ticket prices aren't exactly in the realm of your everyday space fan. It remains to be seen how these prices will fluctuate. 

While a petty battle and space tourism are front and center in the coverage of the Branson and Bezos flights, there are opportunities for science, too. Both companies will offer scientists the opportunity to have payloads taken on flights, with Blue Origin noting astronauts on board can tend to experiments in microgravity in real time. New experiment techniques could be developed in suborbital space before being sent to the International Space Station for longer-duration tests.

But perhaps before we even get there, we need to answer a more pressing question. It's one that Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have had to wrestle with this week: Where does space start? 

There's been a bit of billionaire bickering over where, exactly, space begins. That's why you've likely heard Branson's flight described as reaching "space" or the "edge of space" almost interchangeably -- where Earth's atmosphere "ends" and space begins is not perfectly defined. 

The US Federal Aviation Administration gives astronaut wings to anyone who flies above 50 miles (around 80 kilometers). Some scientists have argued this is fairly reasonable based on the distance at which satellites are able to orbit the Earth, and NASA uses a similar number when defining where space begins for crewed missions. Branson's Virgin Galactic flight saw him reach an altitude of around 53 miles, so he gets his wings. 

But that isn't necessarily where "space" begins, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The FAI's Astronautic Records Commission, which "appraises and administers manned spaceflight record activities," uses something known as the Kármán line to define where space starts.

That "line" sits at around 62 miles (100 kilometers) up. But the FAI's descriptor isn't a legally binding one, and there have been claims space should start even further out -- at 1.5 million kilometers! With the FAA and NASA saying one thing and the FAI saying another... it all gets a little messy. 

The discrepancy means Branson's flight to space is seen by some as requiring an asterisk. Blue Origin took a thinly veiled swipe at the Galactic flight on Twitter. "New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name," the company tweeted.

From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line. pic.twitter.com/QRoufBIrUJ

What does all this mean? Well, Bezos and his crew are definitely going to "space," as defined by crossing the Kármán line -- and Blue Origin is keen to make a big fuss about that. Does it really matter? No. Is it an extremely spicy and pointless discussion for the purposes of space tourism? Probably.

As far as Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic might go with space tourism, another company has even more ambitious plans for 2021: Elon Musk's SpaceX.

That's right, there's another insanely rich man who also has space in his sights. The SpaceX head honcho with plans to establish a colony on Mars? Yes, SpaceX does have plans to take private citizens into the cosmos, too -- and much farther than Branson or Bezos will be able to achieve with their spacecraft. A moon mission, scheduled for 2023, will take eight people "further than any human has ever gone" from the Earth, making a short loop around our natural satellite before returning.

Another mission, with a much closer departure date, will take four private citizens around the Earth in a Crew Dragon spacecraft. There are plans for it to launch before the end of 2021 on a multiday journey along a custom flight path.

Read full article at Yahoo News

DNA Special: International Space Station to soon become the next tourist destination?

DNA India 14 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

England lost the football championship, but the space race has been won by a billionaire businessman from England itself. Today we will tell you about a future holiday destination, whose distance from Delhi is only 408 kilometers. We are talking about space, where the present International Space Station may soon become a new tourist spot.

Last night, British billionaire Richard Branson flew to space in a spacecraft named VSS Unity. This spacecraft was built by his own company, which is named Virgin Galactic.

With this success, 70-year-old Richard Branson and his company have achieved an edge in the field of space tourism. After 8 days from today i.e. on July 20, Jeff Bezos, the world's richest industrialist and owner of Amazon, will fly to space with his company Blue Origin's Spacecraft.

Along with Richard Branson, three crew members and two pilots were also involved in this flight. Among them was Sirisha Bandla of Indian origin, who is at the post of Vice President in the company of Richard Branson.

Richard Branson's company has been working on this plan for 17 years to promote Space Tourism. The world's first space port has been built especially for space tourism in New Mexico, America and from here the spaceship of Vergin Galactic flew to space. Just as there are airports for planes, in the same way, space ports are being built for rockets going to space in different countries of the world.

The duration of this flight was 90 minutes from launching to landing back on Earth. But VSS Unity remained in space for only four minutes. After being in space for about 4 minutes, this spacecraft of Richard Branson came back after touching the edge of space.

The 6 people who flew into space include Sirisha Bandla. She became the third woman of Indian origin to go into space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams. 34-year-old Sirisha is originally from Andhra Pradesh, India. Sirisha moved to America at the age of 4 and she and her family live in Houston city of America.

As we told you that after Richard Branson, now on July 20, Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, will also go to space with his own company's spacecraft. Apart from this, the world's second-richest industrialist Elon Musk's Space Company will also start taking ordinary people into space by the end of this year. That is, by the end of this year, a new war will start between the three big companies of the world regarding space tourism.

Now let us tell you how much money will have to be spent to travel to space with the help of private space companies.

Richard Branson's company will charge an astronaut Rs 2 crore for this, whereas to book a seat in Jeff Bezos's company's spacecraft, you will have to spend one crore 60 lakh rupees.

How much will Elon Musk's company charge for this work has not been disclosed yet.

However, a disadvantage of this new space race can be that the kind of traffic jams that are on the roads, there is a possibility of traffic jams in space. Perhaps that is why all these private companies are working on creating Dedicated Routes for their own Space Flights. Apart from this, thousands of satellites are also present in Earth's orbit and space.

According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, more than 11,000 satellites have been launched into space so far. Out of which about seven and a half thousand satellites are still active, while the rest of the satellites have either been destroyed by burning or are still roaming in space in the form of debris. The fragments of some of these satellites are very large in size and are in danger of colliding with the Earth.

Branson: I'd be delighted to go to Bezos space launch if invited | TheHill

The Hill 14 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

"If I'm invited, I'd be delighted to go," Branson said. "It's gonna be a wonderful thing to watch, but otherwise I'll watch from my holiday."

After rocketing into space, Richard Branson predicts “over the years to come, there will be thousands of people who we will put into space and will become astronauts, and hopefully will come back and realize what a special world we live in.” https://t.co/8wV0BFyDjg pic.twitter.com/RSPwgqrXbw

Harlow asked Branson to respond to some criticisms that the billionaire space race has faced, stating that this sort of spending does not help address more pressing issues going on in the world.

"I think that you need people like myself, too. ... If you talk about airplane travel a hundred years ago, you had entrepreneurs that, you know, built airplanes that now have transformed the world and enabled most people to be able to afford to be able to fly," Branson responded.

"We're building the beginning of a new space line which hopefully will enable, in a hundred years' time, many people to be able to go to space, maybe to go to one part of the world to another part of the world in a fraction of the time."

Branson also stressed that the pursuit of space travel has also enabled the development of other innovative technologies such as the satellites that his company has developed.

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