"How it felt? Oh my God!": Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin crew speak after spaceflight

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CBS News 20 July, 2021 - 12:05pm 13 views

Where is Blue Origin landing?

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 is Jeff Bezos flying?

Jeff Bezos and three crewmates blasted off at 9:12 a.m. EDT on Blue Origin's first passenger space flight. The thrilling 10-minute up-and-down flight to an altitude of over 62 miles above the Earth is intended to set the stage for the start of commercial passenger service later this year. CBS NewsLive Updates: Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin complete successful spaceflight

What time is the Blue Origin launch on Tuesday?

The 10-minute Blue Origin flight took off from a Texas launch facility at about 9:13 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. Jeff Bezos rocketed into history on Tuesday when his company successfully carried the first paying customer to space and back. Barron'sBlue Origin Becomes the First Company to Take a Paying Passenger to Space. What It Means for Investors.

Is Bezos launch on TV?

Here's the information you'll need to watch the Bezos space flight on TV, or online via a free live stream. When is Jeff Bezos space flight? The Jeff Bezos rocket launch will happen around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20. The exact time that coverage begins on TV will vary based on each network that is covering the flight. nj.comJeff Bezos space flight: How to watch launch, live stream, time, TV, channel

Read full article at CBS News

Jeff Bezos' live Blue Origin space launch is the pinnacle of waste

MSNBC 20 July, 2021 - 03:01pm

In 1970, one year after the moon landing, the poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron released one of his best-known spoken word compositions. The piece, “Whitey on the Moon,” memorialized, in sardonic fashion, the saccharine patriotism that had arisen around Apollo 11, with its Cold War triumphalism and sensation of the imminent conquest of space.

Scott-Heron’s oration, against the backdrop of a hypnotic drumbeat, lamented that a rat had bitten his sister, the rent was going up, and far away on a rock in airless space a man had planted an American flag. Scott-Heron later explained that the poem had been inspired by Eldridge Cleaver, an exiled leader of the Black Panther Party, describing the space race as a “flying circus” meant to suppress both revolutionary sentiment and more conventional efforts at social betterment in the United States.

Fifty-one years later, Scott-Heron’s words are no less damning — doctor bills and rent remain unalleviated, and the racial disparities inherent in the refrain seem ever starker, enshrined in new voter-suppression legislation around the country and in the disproportionate death toll of the pandemic on communities of color. But a new “flying circus” has arisen nonetheless — another race to space, even more ludicrous than before, with a rarefied circle of lily-white billionaires serving as well-heeled ringmasters.

The exploration of space, as Scott-Heron noted most succinctly but which a long history of social commentary lays out, has always been juxtaposed against the pressing earthly needs of any country that seeks to launch its citizens into orbit. The United States, ever a poor steward of its citizens’ needs — from the abject failure of its health care system to appalling rates of poverty and food insecurity unparalleled in developed nations — is particularly vulnerable to this criticism.

These space newbies are proud of the massive outlays of cash their sallies require — the ultimate in cachet, and in embodied folly.

“America has reached the stars but has not reached out to her starving poor,” the civil rights activist Ralph Abernathy said at a 1969 protest at Cape Kennedy. NASA itself also reflected the myriad prejudices of the period, its elite mission an excuse to keep its public face white and male. It took until 1983 for Guion Bluford to become the first African American in space. That same year Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, 20 years after Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova took a solo spaceflight on the Vostok 6.

Nonetheless, there was, arguably, something noble about the space program of the 1960s: It may have been mired in the bitter and petty rivalries of the Cold War, and limned by prejudice about who could excel, but it was a project funded and created by our government, an achievement held in common by the masses.

No such common pride can be held in the launch of the titans of capital. These space newbies are proud of the massive outlays of cash their sallies require — the ultimate in cachet, and in embodied folly. More distressing is how much public money is going to these boondoggles. Musk’s empire, including SpaceX, his sally into rocketry, is funded to the tune of $4.9 billion in government subsidies. Virgin Galactic has received contracts from NASA as well as $200 million in investment in a spaceport from the state of New Mexico. And Bezos’ Blue Origin has applied for a $10 billion federal contract, which cleared the Senate, though it was blocked in the House in June.

Meanwhile, Branson, the blond-goateed proprietor of Virgin Galactic, flew to just below the Kármán line, the outer boundary of earth’s atmosphere, last week; future flights will cost ticket-holders a quarter-million dollars. And while he won’t be launched into the sky himself, let’s not leave out the odious Musk, whose signature combination of braggadocio and searingly obnoxious fanbase makes the SpaceX-founder perhaps the most unlikable of any of these would-be emperors of the cosmos.

There may be those who thrill at the spectacle, but the whole ordeal is too apt a metaphor for the slow and then dizzyingly fast collapse of America.

In this billionaire battle, there is no pretense at a sense of collective pride or communal achievement. Even the drumbeat of nationalism would be better than this obscene egotism, whose fumes are more putrid than rocket-jet emissions. It feels like a parody of hubris, and a colossal celebration of the social failure to moderate preposterous accumulations of wealth.

There may be those who thrill at the spectacle, but the whole ordeal is too apt a metaphor for the slow and then dizzyingly fast collapse of America. What once was a public effort turned into a private playground for the ultra-wealthy, the commons hollowed out and impoverished to make room for immense consolidated wealth. While the rich sail to the stars the rest of us are left to toil in gravity’s bounds, never to attain the exalted heights, or elevated strata, that the titans of greed have claimed for themselves.

These men — all men, all white, all rich beyond imagining, hoarding wealth beyond the coffers of most global governments — are bored of their multiple homes and enormous staffs and entourages and yes-men and diminishing corporate responsibilities. They look to the black deeps of space to fuel their sense of conquest, correctly assuming that all earthly authority is too cowed to challenge them, that they will never have to share the treasure troves they have acquired and sit on in dragonish greed. But even the sucking emptiness of space cannot match their vacuity; stars shine with inner fire, not glitz dearly bought and easily discarded.

Looking at Bezos’ pending launch into space, I cannot help but think of the fact that the behemoth company he founded is infamous for forcing their warehouse workers to urinate in bottles. (At least astronauts have the advantage of an elaborate hose-and-funnel system — and more importantly, it’s part of a path they have chosen, not an exercise in dehumanization.) In space, at least, unlike in the United States, there’s no real estate crunch — there is quite literally all the room in the world, for the most colossal of palaces.

If the billionaires really wish to outdo each other, let them build floating space palaces of increasingly comical size; rest in weightless ease on their golden artificial planets; and leave the rest of us in peace, never to return.

CORRECTION (July 20, 2021, 9:40 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the name of Gil Scott-Heron's 1970 spoken word piece. It is titled "Whitey on the Moon," not "White on the Moon."

Space race: What Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson are each trying to achieve

Yahoo Finance 20 July, 2021 - 03:01pm

Bezos' maiden voyage came just over a week after English business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group (VGII) Sir Richard Branson's July 11 spaceflight aboard Virgin Galactic’s (SPCE) VSS Unity spacecraft.

In the past decade, both publicly traded and private aerospace firms have risen into prominence with aspirations of commercializing the final frontier. These companies are ushering in a new era of space exploration and travel — one that is catalyzed by free market competition. Companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, along with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are looking to make space exploration more affordable and accessible, as well as advance the progress of the human race.

“We are really just on the cusp of seeing the activity of commercial human space flight,” Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Karina Drees told Yahoo Finance Live. “Future generations are going to look at this moment as a pivotal moment for humanity when it comes to the expansion into space.”

Blue Origin is an aerospace manufacturer and suborbital spaceflight services company founded in 2000 by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bezos and became the first aerospace company to complete an unpiloted suborbital flight with an all-civilian crew with paying tourist customers on the morning of July 20.

Headquartered in Kent, Washington, the company remains private and aims to make access to space more cost-effective and reliable through its reusable launch vehicles. A June estimate from Craft.co has Blue Origin employing approximately 3,390 people.

Bezos’ first trip to space, like Branson's, was a crewed suborbital spaceflight. However, Blue Origin used a vertical-takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL), crew-rated suborbital launch vehicle named “New Shepard.”

Launched from a facility near the small town of Van Horn, Texas, the New Shepard reached a maximum altitude of 65 miles, or just over 343,000 feet — substantially higher than Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, which reached 282,000 feet. Previous tests have shown that the New Shepard is capable of speeds of at least Mach 3, or over 2,200 mph.

Bezos and company experienced about three minutes of weightlessness. And though the New Shepard’s crew capsule can handle up to six passengers, this flight only included four people. Final ticket prices for Blue Origin space tours are still yet to be determined, but a winner of the lottery to sit alongside Bezos in his first spaceflight paid $29.7 million.

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Branson’s Virgin Galactic is a commercial spacecraft developer and space tourism company. It earned its reputation through becoming the first publicly traded space tourism company in the world.

With a market cap of just over $7.5 billion, the latest estimate from Macrotrends has Virgin Galactic employing 823 people. Its long term goal is to dominate the space tourism market through its lineup of spaceplanes that will allow passengers to experience weightlessness in zero-gravity in suborbital spaceflight. (A spaceflight is “suborbital” when the spacecraft does not travel fast enough to enter Earth’s orbit, but rather, briefly crosses the boundary of space before traveling back down to Earth.)

Though Branson’s July 11 flight was not the company’s first successful manned flight, it marked Branson’s first time reaching space and served as a critical test flight before commercial operations could begin. Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft differs from those of Blue Origin and SpaceX in that it utilizes a spaceplane rather than a reusable rocket. The spaceplane itself must be carried to a certain altitude by a carrier aircraft launch platform before being released to climb further into space using its own boosters.

Launched from Spaceport America in Sierra County, New Mexico, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket-powered crewed spaceplane, was carried by the VMS Eve, a carrier aircraft, above 40,000 feet before they separated during Branson’s July 11 flight. 

VSS Unity reached a maximum altitude of about 282,000 feet, well above the 264,000-foot line at which space “begins.” Branson and those onboard achieved a top speed of Mach 3.2 or 2,435 mph, and experienced weightlessness for about 3 minutes.

Though the VSS Unity can seat a total of eight people, including two pilots, Branson’s maiden voyage included just three other passengers, excluding pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci. Tickets for a 2.5-hour round trip to and from space with Virgin Galactic are expected to cost $250,000.

SpaceX is an aerospace manufacturer as well as a space transportation services and communications company, founded by Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk in 2002, that currently employs between 9,500 and 10,000.

The company is known for being the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft, the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), and the producer of the first successful vertical take-off and vertical landing orbital rocket, among other feats. 

Musk's long-term goal is to colonize Mars through more efficient space travel methods.

Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company, which is not publicly traded, is estimated to be worth as much as $74 billion, according to Forbes. 

More recently, SpaceX made headlines once again for its Crew-1 mission, the company’s first operational mission to send astronauts to the ISS as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft containing four astronauts was launched atop a reusable, two-stage Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 16, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS).

Having successfully reached the ISS, Crew-1 reached a maximum altitude of 285 miles above Earth (the ISS’s orbit height can fluctuate between 174 and 285 miles) and a top speed of at least Mach 23, or 17,500 mph, which is required to enter low Earth orbit. The official mission time was clocked at 167 days, six hours, and 29 minutes, with Crew-1 spending approximately 167 days in space and touching down on the morning of May 2, 2021.

As for goals in the long term, SpaceX maintains its developmental program to facilitate the eventual colonization of Mars. Musk announced that the first manned mission to Mars may come as early as 2026, with unmanned missions first taking place in the years prior. 

Though many details surrounding SpaceX’s mission to Mars are still unknown, the company is working closely with NASA and other experts to draft plans. It is also likely that the Starship system, SpaceX’s fully reusable launch vehicle composed of a booster stage named Super Heavy and a second stage called "Starship,” will play a crucial role in getting the first humans to set foot on the Red Planet.

Thomas Hum is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @thomashumTV

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