Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Launch to Space: When and How to Watch

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The New York Times 20 July, 2021 - 05:45am 36 views

What time is Blue Origin launch?

When is the launch and how can I watch it? Blue Origin is aiming for the rocket to take off at 9 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, July 20. The company will begin coverage of the launch at 7:30 a.m. on its YouTube channel. The New York TimesWhen to Watch Jeff Bezos' Space Flight: Crew, Streaming and Launch Site

Where is Blue Origin launching from?

Blue Origin, unlike Virgin Galactic, launches from a facility in West Texas; it was built specifically for the company's specifications on land owned by Bezos. Dubbed “Launch Site One” by the company, it is located outside Van Horn, Texas. ForbesCan You Watch A Blue Origin In West Texas?

How long will the Blue Origin flight last?

Blue Origin uses a conventional rocket and space capsule that launches and lands vertically, so it is quicker than Virgin Galactic's vehicle to reach the edge of space, and the entire flight is 11 minutes. The Wall Street JournalWhen Is Jeff Bezos’ Flight to Space and How to Watch the Blue Origin Launch

He will be accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student.

They will travel in a capsule with the biggest windows flown into space, offering stunning views of the Earth.

New Shepard, built by Bezos' company Blue Origin, is designed to serve the burgeoning market for space tourism.

"I'm excited. People keep asking me if I'm nervous. I'm not really nervous, I'm curious. I want to know what we're going to learn," Bezos said in an interview with CBS News.

"We've been training. This vehicle's ready, this crew is ready, this team is amazing. We just feel really good about it."

Ms Funk added: "It's going to happen! I've waited a long time and I've dreamed a long time to get to go up."

In the 1960s, Ms Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13, who underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but who never got to fly into space.

At 14:00 BST (09:00 EDT), the four passengers will lift off on a rocket from Bezos' private launch site near Van Horn, Texas.

The capsule, containing the Bezos brothers, Funk and student Oliver Daemen, separates from its booster around 76km (250,000ft) up. The rocket lands on its "legs" about 2 miles from the launch pad, while the capsule continues upwards to an altitude of around 106km (350,000ft).

"We're in zero-g for around four minutes, and we get to get out of our seats, unstrap, float around, look at the thin limb of the Earth's atmosphere," Bezos told CBS News.

"People who have been up - astronauts - say that when they do that, they can see that the Earth is so fragile.

"The views are going to be terrific, the zero-g will be an unusual experience that you really can't get in any good way on Earth."

Asked what she was looking forward to, Ms Funk said: "When I'm up in space and able to do somersaults and tumbles and do anything that I've wanted to do."

After reaching its maximum altitude, the capsule begins its descent, parachuting down to a soft landing in the desert.

The launch is the latest salvo in what has been dubbed the "billionaire space race". It comes just nine days after Bezos' space tourism rival, Sir Richard Branson, flew high above the Earth on his Virgin Galactic space plane.

Interviewed on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, Sir Richard insisted it hadn't been important for him to beat Bezos, and even had some friendly advice for the Amazon founder: "Just absorb the view outside - really take it in. It is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Though the private spaceflight revolution is often billed as an effort to expand access to space for all, seats aboard one of Virgin Galactic flights will initially set customers back $250,000, while the regular ticket price for a ride on New Shepard has not been announced.

With a net worth of around $200bn, Bezos is the world's richest man. The 57-year-old recently resigned as chief executive of e-commerce giant Amazon to focus on special company initiatives and his other ventures such as Blue Origin.

Bezos' brother Mark, 53, founded an advertising agency and is now a senior vice president at Robin Hood, a New York-based charity.

The fourth passenger is the son of Joes Daemen, founder of Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners. Oliver had originally secured a seat on the second flight, but was drafted in to replaced the anonymous winner of a public auction.

This unnamed winner, who paid $28m (£20m) to join Bezos on New Shepard's first crewed flight, had to pull out "due to scheduling conflicts".

Bezos and Branson have been on the receiving end of a social media backlash, with users arguing the money for space could be put to better use - such as tackling climate change or helping the world recover from the pandemic.

Sir Richard has addressed the criticism, saying: "I can understand it, but I think maybe they're not fully educated to what space does for Earth... space is connecting the millions of people who are not connected."

He added that satellites were monitoring "the degradation of the rainforests, monitoring food distribution - even things like climate change. These things are essential for people back here on Earth. We need more spaceships going up to space, we don't need less."

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15 sayings from around the world

Read full article at The New York Times

Opinion | The billionaire space race is a glut of waste and ego

MSNBC 20 July, 2021 - 04:38am

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, “White 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.

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