Where is Blue Origin launch?
If all goes to plan, the company's New Shepard rocket and capsule will take off for an 11-minute journey, launching and landing outside Van Horn, Texas at Blue Origin facilities, dubbed Launch Site One. Space.comBlue Origin to launch its 1st astronaut flight with Jeff Bezos and crew of 3 today
How high did Virgin Galactic fly?
Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered Unity craft launches from a carrier airplane from an altitude of 50,000 feet and is flown by two onboard pilots. Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket and capsule launch vertically and are designed to fly autonomously. Both the rocket and capsule are also designed to be reusable. NBC NewsAmazon's Jeff Bezos makes history with all-civilian suborbital flight
How high did Branson go into space?
That will give Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin — which he founded in 2000 — bragging rights over Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson, whose flight this month aboard SpaceShipTwo hit a peak altitude of around 282,000 feet, surpassing NASA's designated Earth-space boundary of 50 miles, but falling well short of the Kármán line. NPRJeff Bezos' Completes His Blue Origin Flight To Space
How long was Virgin space flight?
The flight lasted about 10 minutes. Pilots guided the Virgin Galactic spaceplane through a spiraling descent, and landed on Spaceport America's 12,000-foot-long runway. The flight lasted 59 minutes from takeoff to touchdown. Both launches are complete – but the space race is not over. CBS NewsBillionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have now both gone to space. Here's the difference between their Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights.
20 July, 2021 - 02:10pm
Beating Amazon’s founder to it last week, Richard Branson also aimed to bring to his somewhat shorter (turn back at Newport Pagnell) Virgin stunt, a flavour of Le Petit Prince. “I was once a child with a dream, looking up at the stars,” the author of Screw It, Let’s Do It offered as the origin myth behind a video of him bobbing about in his space suit. It may be an incongruous thought for anyone who has come, after a lifetime’s exposure, to understand Branson’s dream as primarily that of making money and hoisting nearby women into the air. But fair enough, he was probably innocent once, even if it doesn’t, like any early interest in the stars, come across in his autobiography, Losing My Virginity.
At the time of the moon landings, the teenage entrepreneur was already living in a commune, where “there was lots of talk about free love, and lots of practice of it”. One of Branson’s guiding principles, stressed in Screw It, is that “sex appeal” is good for a brand. “Definitely, sexy is very cool. I want Virgin to be the coolest brand on the planet and for that, I’m prepared to dangle in the buff over Times Square, fly over Everest in a balloon, or find myself on a bunjee [sic] 100 feet below a helicopter in a skydiver position, to be landed among 100 buxom and beautiful female lifeguards…”
Or, as last week, to go almost into space then pose with a female crew member, Sirisha Bandla, sitting on his shoulders. Whether this shift towards a more dignified woman-carrying technique signals, along with his inspirational address, the mature Branson’s wish to distinguish his mystical space tourism experience from previous jaunts, or just some vague awareness that #MeToo complicates things, it certainly seems to have lacked the PR impact of earlier iterations featuring, say, Dita von Teese or an upside down Pamela Anderson (“The photographers couldn’t keep their eyes off her nature-defying breasts that flipped right out”). Though even if he had, as in the old days, hired a portable woman in a red outfit for the occasion, some grudging press accounts of his expedition, with some yet more disrespectful tweets, have contributed to the impression that if we are not yet entering a post-Branson age, this ubiquitous figure, unavoidable at least since he gave Margaret Thatcher a boat ride up the Thames (“her profile cut through the wind like a bowsprit, and not a single strand of hair had blown out of place”), may finally be becoming his own, declining asset.
Supposing anyone ever wanted to look at Branson kitesurfing with a naked woman on his back (“I only wish I had eyes in the back of my head”), it is hard to believe such an image could now – excepting, no doubt, in some likeminded sections of the space tourism market – achieve much beyond widespread nausea. Which must represent progress, of a sort, since he bundled Kate Moss around the wing of a Boeing 747. Whatever a less offensive Branson could mean for humanity, it obviously presents marketing challenges for Virgin as a company, assuming they’ve been studying online commentary on their mascot.
For if Branson’s rocket performance represented, as well as a ticket promotion, a stab at corrective profundity, this improved messaging still only seems to have reminded people who may have missed him dressing up as a Zulu warrior or as Che Guevara or – quite a favourite with him – a woman, of his other, arguably still more disquieting habits, from paying no personal income tax in the UK since he moved to the tax-free British Virgin Islands (BVA), to, in connection with Virgin Care, suing the NHS. It has evidently not reached parts of Twitter that Branson lives in the BVA purely, he explains, for health reasons. Nor does Branson’s well-advertised closeness, along with Thatcher, to Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana now placate internet critics reminded by the rocket trip that this amateur statesman recently sought a UK state subsidy when the pandemic grounded Virgin planes and last week took off from a base built with the help of $220m from earthbound US taxpayers.
Until Bezos gets in his rocket this week, then Elon Musk’s crew in his, it’s hard to distinguish how much of the negative or unimpressed public responses to such ascents is Bransonphobic, how much a verdict on space exploration and how much a growing suspicion of men who, with the colossal means to address climate disaster, would rather burn their wealth on projects that even they occasionally admit are juvenile. There may, perhaps, be something peculiarly irritating, for anyone aware of Branson’s personal and commercial contribution to airline emissions, to see him bloviating about the “beautiful Earth” he wants customers to look at, on their £180,000 rides, so they subsequently “work very hard to try to do magic to it to look after it”. As for Virgin Galactic, it has hopes of a supersonic travel business.
Whatever it does for – or to – space exploration, Branson’s latest outing does appear, beyond any of his previous exploits, genuinely to have advanced public understanding of his own public-relations strategy, one that served him so well in an era more hospitable to women-jugglers, before Bezos and Musk got going. “Anything,” he wrote in 2006, “however outlandish, that generates media coverage reinforces my image as a risk-taker who challenges the establishment.” If Branson has inadvertently torched this signature principle then, yes, something good did come out of that rocket.
Catherine Bennett is an Observer columnist
20 July, 2021 - 02:10pm
At the time, I hosted a daily MSNBC show, and that day my team and I decided to do something different: We turned our attention away from the daily buffet of political negativity and lies and instead helped our viewers bear witness to a historical triumph of science and ingenuity by covering the landing. The response from you, the viewers, was overwhelmingly positive. Back in 2018, watching a rocket launch still held a certain magic.
It was obvious that the launch and the landing were a milestone, especially in a world that on some days looked like it was moving backward. The engineering and inventiveness that went into it would power our strides in a space race in which both China and Russia were actively engaged — but which the U.S. had, in large part, abdicated to wealthy private adventurers.
Everyone knew when that rocket launched and landed that it was the brainchild and commercial business of Elon Musk. Throughout history, adventurers with resources have been at the forefront of breakthroughs from which all of society ultimately benefits.
But I also saw some stinky tweets — from some of you and from some of my colleagues. There were too many to list here, but they all bore some version of the same message: "This isn't exploration. It's tourism, the sort of which only the uber wealthy will ever enjoy. No benefit from this will ever accrue to society as a whole. And, by the way, we have a climate crisis, a gun crisis and a democracy at risk of crumbling. So why are you fawning over a contest between out-of-touch billionaires?"
Maybe just going up there for a few minutes will make life down here better.
Some of that is true; some of it isn't. It's a bit like asking the cops who pull you over for a parking ticket why they aren't out catching murderers, instead. In the news business, we can, and do, cover the climate crisis, the attacks on democracy, gun control, infrastructure, health care, wages, social justice — and space.
Where the critics go wrong is in thinking the Virgin Galactic launch and Tuesday's Blue Origin launch aren't important and meaningful advances. They are hard to do. They take years of study and innovation from which we all benefit. They are risky. In 2014, a test pilot died while trying out a highly advanced mechanism on a predecessor vehicle to SpaceShipTwo used in the Virgin Galactic launch. Test pilots have died the same way testing the commercial aircraft that were once only the domain of the very wealthy but which are now a critical part of our infrastructure that benefits all of humanity.
And, while the world is indeed burning, we can and should solve for that along with all the other matters that need solving. (Just about an hour before the Virgin Galactic launch, I wondered aloud on TV what the Earth would be like if we made solving the climate crisis a race like getting to space.) We don't turn our attention away from climate to discuss the attacks on democracy or from guns to deal with wages. The human mind can embrace, study and solve for it all, and we should celebrate successes wherever they are.
There are valid questions about whether superrich people who run businesses that could benefit from government contracts as they relate to space should be able to do so while employing legal but creative and unseemly ways to avoid paying taxes — which most regular folks can't do. And those people should be held to account.
But let's separate your valid criticisms of Jeff Bezos, Branson and Musk from the remarkable achievements we are witnessing. Because we seem to have decided as a country — incorrectly, in my opinion — that space exploration shouldn't be a public priority. That's a serious issue, because America's adversaries see space advances as a way to gain dominance in technology, communications, transportation and access to resources. Forget space tourism, which is way down the line of priorities. Without these commercial space vehicles, American astronauts would need to hitch rides with the Russians just to get to and from the International Space Station, where they conduct experiments that have direct impacts on our lives, our health and our longevity.
When I was a kid, space was a place of wonder and possibility. It still is.
And yes, space exploration is expensive. Which is why, until lately, it has largely been done exclusively by governments. And America is at risk of losing dominance in the international space race in part because many Americans don't care.
This is also in part because we don't have a lot of rocket launches or shared goals about space or inspirational stories to tell about it. You know I share your sense of urgency about social justice and democracy and climate change and public education and poverty eradication and higher wages. I also know we can fix all that and still marvel at a space launch and dream about traveling to space or being the engineers and scientists and pilots who get us there.
When I was a kid, space was a place of wonder and possibility. It still is.Let's not get so jaded that we don't celebrate real human, scientific and engineering achievement or that we are uninspired by the truly inspiring.
Today's commercial space industry was launched in 1994 with the $10 million Ansari X Prize. The winner of that original competition to create a reusable commercial spacecraft evolved into SpaceShipTwo, which took Branson to the edge of space. The X Prize Foundation has used private money to launch incentivized competitions to tackle adult literacy, improve early detection of Alzheimer's, capture carbon from the air, remove spilled oil from the oceans and help with countless other races for radical breakthroughs.
Progress, innovation and solving for some of our biggest problems are the goals. A trip to space is just a fringe benefit.
20 July, 2021 - 02:10pm
20 July, 2021 - 02:10pm
The actions of millions of people and policies of innumerable governments to protect the climate are being negated by selfish millionaires shooting themselves into space. Sonya Diehn has a proposal for Branson and Bezos.
Jeff Bezos says Blue Origin is supposed to help the planet. Really?
I care about the future; therefore, I care about the climate. I belong to the vast majority of global citizens who, as poll after poll shows, are concerned about the direction the planet is heading and understand the urgency and existential nature of the impending climate emergency. The recent catastrophic flooding in central Europe and extreme high temperatures in North America are just a few symptoms of this.
So in my family, we do something about it. We scrimp and save on our carbon budget: we walk or ride bikes instead of driving our car; we eat dramatically less meat than the average family in industrialized countries; we skip that trans-Atlantic trip even if we really want it; we make sure we're not wasting food and we also compost our scraps.
And then some filthy rich guy blasts into space, just for fun.
And it really devaluates our efforts to protect the climate — both morally and materially.
Sonya Diehn has a proposal for Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson
People's motivation to take action on climate change declines when they see others doing whatever they want, without heed for the consequences. Beyond this demoralization, there is then the actual carbon footprint of space tourism.
Look, I'm not against space travel in principle. I'm actually a bit of a science-fiction nerd myself, and get very excited about the possibilities of exploring space. And granted, all tourism — even on Earth — creates carbon emissions. My intention is not to say tourism shouldn't exist. But the problem with space tourism is the proportion.
Let's take Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space flight on July 11. For a suborbital journey of about 100 miles (160 kilometers), the company said the carbon dioxide emissions released were roughly equal to a round-trip trans-Atlantic passenger jet flight. Based on publicly available information, a trip from London to New York City releases about 1.24 metric tons of CO2. To put it another way, that 1 1/2-hour jaunt into space was equivalent to about 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) of driving an average passenger car.
Not only CO2, but also soot and ozone-depleting substances are released by Virgin Galactic's space plane
If Virgin Galactic is adding 3,000 road miles of CO2 emissions to our atmosphere for a single short trip for a mere six people, that devalues efforts — both personal and policy — to protect the climate. The problem could become particularly acute as space tourism ramps up, as it seems could soon be the case: More than 600 people have already made a reservation for a Virgin Galactic space flight, which has a price tag of between $200,000 and $250,000 (€169,000 to €212,000).
Branson's Virgin Galactic reportedly focuses on environmental sustainability, although what that entails has not been made clear. I find this to be a very dubious claim, particularly in light of the carbon footprint of such flights.
At least billionaire Jeff Bezos gives the environment more than just lip service, by having rockets for his space travel company Blue Origin use hydrogen fuel, which does not produce carbon emissions. But let's please not ignore the fact that hydrogen fuel, though it can be produced using renewable energy, is currently typically produced by — you guessed it — burning fossil fuels.
It's ironic: the sight of planet Earth from orbit — a gem of life amid the black void of space — is often credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement. And now, Blue Origin says its vision is to benefit Earth. This was most certainly the motivation behind selling off one ticket on its current flight to an ultra-rich mystery bidder — at $28 million (that person has since postponed their participation to a future trip). That's beyond ironic — I'd call it … cynical.
So beautiful, yet so fragile: The one and only planet Earth
If space tourism companies really want to make good on their green claims, I propose the following: For every flight taken by tourists into space, let's see those companies invest an equal sum into climate protection. That way, those egoists can still get their kicks, and we can also try to heal the climate.
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