Jeff Bezos eyes space as a new ‘sacrifice zone’

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The Verge 21 July, 2021 - 01:08pm 23 views

Where did the Blue Origin launch take place?

It was quite the media spectacle. The mission took place at Launch Site One, Blue Origin's sprawling and secretive facility that sits around thirty miles north of the small town of Van Horn, Texas. TechCrunchBlue Origin’s New Shepard carries Jeff Bezos and three crew members to space and back

Who went with Bezos?

Billionaire Jeff Bezos has made a short journey to space, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard. He was accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student. BBC NewsJeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

How long is the Blue Origin space flight?

As space travel goes, Blue Origin's flight was a modest, up-and-down, suborbital jaunt, just over 66.5 miles high, a mere toe dip in the vastness of the cosmos that lasted just over 10 minutes from launch to landing. The Washington PostJeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen reach space, return safely on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket

How much did it cost to launch Blue Origin?

The price was originally $200,000 and later raised to $250,000, but Virgin Galactic stopped sales in 2014 after a crash of its first space plane during a test flight. Virgin Galactic officials say they will resume sales later this year, and the price will likely be higher than $250,000. The New York TimesHow Much Does It Cost to Fly on Blue Origin's New Shepard?

By Joshua Rhett Miller

July 21, 2021 | 9:14am | Updated July 21, 2021 | 11:33am

Lefty Democrats are lambasting Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos over his “despicable” comments thanking Amazon employees and customers for financing his brief trip to space — and calling on the billionaire to pay his share of taxes here on Earth.

The show of appreciation by Bezos Tuesday to the workers and customers who “paid for all this” following his $5.5 billion flight did not dazzle the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“Am I supposed to be impressed that a billionaire went to space while he’s paid zero in federal income taxes some years and the workers at his company struggle to afford their medical bills, rent, and food for their kids?” Sanders tweeted. “Nope. It’s time to invest in working people here on Earth.”

Warren echoed that take, tweeting: “It’s time for Jeff Bezos to take care of business right here on Earth and pay his fair share in taxes.”

Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, said Amazon customers paid for Bezos’ trip while alleging the online giant abused its “market power” to decimate small businesses.

“Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this – with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic,” the New York lawmaker tweeted.

Bezos awarded $100 million each to political commentator Van Jones and chef Jose Andres during a press conference following his trip, telling the pair to donate it to charities and nonprofits.

But the donation didn’t apparently win over Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee who proposed legislation Tuesday to tax space travel for non-scientific research purposes.

“Space travel isn’t a tax-free holiday for the wealthy,” Blumenauer tweeted. “We pay taxes on plane tickets. Billionaires flying into space – producing no scientific value – should do the same, and then some!”

King, however, defended Bezos — noting that he should be able to spend his billions how he pleases.

“There’s been a lot of talk about all the money that was spent … I love people trying to tell him how to spend his own money,” she said sarcastically. 

Meanwhile, some Amazon customers also criticized Bezos’ nod to them for paying for his trip, saying he’s officially lost their business.

“I don’t buy very much from Amazon (certainly not books), but after seeing Jeff Bezos & his gang laugh about his minimum wage employees & customers paying for his trip into space, I just cancelled my Amazon Prime account,” former Amazon customer Jules Swain tweeted Tuesday, later calling Bezos “despicable” in a follow-up post.

“I’ve just done the same Jules!” one reply read.

Read full article at The Verge

Billionaire rocket race shows how remarkable Alan Shepard’s 1961 space flight was

The Independent 21 July, 2021 - 03:02pm

When Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space more than 60 years ago, he did so sitting on top of a modified military ballistic missile, the Redstone Rocket.

The former naval aviator and test pilot took his place in history wearing the iconic Mercury spacesuit, which NASA had decided not to fit with a system to allow him to go to the toilet. With his flight only expected to last 15 minutes, the space agency did not factor in any delays, but Mr Shepard ended up waiting on the launch pad for four hours before leaving the planet and ended up having to go in his suit.

Inside that suit, Mr Shepard also carried a single dollar bill, with its unique serial number, which would be used by officials from the US National Aeronautic Association to certify that the astronaut loaded onto the rocket was the same one rescued from the Atlantic Ocean. This became the standard procedure on all US space flights and was used to verify every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space flight.

It is a far cry from the flights taken this month by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, which were live streamed around the world using multiple camera angles, both outside and inside the spacecraft.

And the founder of Blue Origin was so confident in the spacecraft that he and his three crew-mates wore just light flight suits inside the pressurised cabin as they soared away from Earth.

It is extremely rare for astronauts to not wear space suits for launch, as a backup to the failure of cabin pressure, but it was also the policy of Virgin Galactic’s crew, which wore Under Armor flight suits.

Mr Bezos, the world’s richest person, became the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space on a vehicle built by their private space company.

The Amazon founder lifted off onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket a week after Richard Branson went into space on his company Virgin Galactic’s own spacecraft.

Both entrepreneurs’ space adventures have captured headlines around the world and been lauded as the future of space tourism.

But observers have also pointed out that the flights, with far more advanced technology available to engineers, still essentially achieved the same feat as Mr Shepard did when he became the first American in space in May 1961

Mr Bezo’s flight took place in a crew capsule mounted on top of the New Shepard booster, named in honour of Alan Shepard.

After take-of Mr Bezos and his three crew-mates, reached the edge of sub orbital space at an altitude of 62 miles above Earth.

“I’m reminded of Alan Shepard and his first Mercury flight that was a rocket booster and a capsule,” said CBS News senior space analyst Bill Harwood.

“This is the same philosophy, and just like that original Mercury flight, they have an abort system, so they can get away from the rocket if there is a malfunction,” Mr Harwood said.

But some observers said that the flights of Mr Bezos and Mr Branson actually just showed the achievements of Mr Shepard and the team that launched him into space decades ago

Former Astronaut Clayton Anderson compared Mr Bezo’s flight directly to that of Mr Shepard in 1961.

“Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin folks, they were able to piggyback on over 40 years of NASA work,” he told Yahoo Finance.

“They did today what Alan Shepard... did in 1961, but they did it more efficiently in a way cooler fashion based on the leaps in technology.”

And social media users were quick to remind people of Mr Shepard’s achievements six decades ago.

“I don’t lose much sleep over billionaire space ego trips. The end result is advances in commercial space flight. But all of this is a reminder of just how miraculous the ventures into space in the 1960s, with comparatively primitive technology, really were,” tweeted Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.

“Private space flight is a good thing that will only get better. But let’s not get carried away with the Branson and Bezos flights. They barely touched the edge of space and turned around. Astronaut Alan Shepard, the 1st American in space, did the same thing in May, 1961!” tweeted former Wall Street Journal editor Walt Mossberg,

And Senator Elizabeth Warren was also quick to take a shot at the Amazon founder.

“It’s time for Jeff Bezos to take care of business right here on Earth and pay his fair share in taxes,” she tweeted.

Mr Shepard was beaten into space by Russian Yuri Gagarin, who became the first man in space in April 1961, after the US delayed its own launch on several occasions.

On 5 May 1961, Shepard piloted the Mercury Spacecraft 7, which he named Freedom 7, on a suborbital flight that  lasted for 15 minutes and reached an altitude of 101.2 miles before splashing down in the Atlantic.

Mr Bezos and his crew were onboard their own flight for around 11 minutes, and enjoyed three minutes of weightlessness, and successfully reached the mark internationally recognized as space.

5 May 1961: Launch of the United States' first manned spaceflight, a sub-orbital mission with astronaut Alan B. Shephard Jr on the Mercury-Redstone MR 3 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.

After reaching this high point, the capsule successfully and safely returned to Earth using parachutes.

The Amazon founder’s flight traveled around 69,000ft higher than Mr Branson’s, which still went above the 50-mile altitude recognized by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jeanne Gerulskis, the executive director of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire, said NMr Shepard would be honored to have his name linked to the flight.

“He was very competitive. So, I think he would like the idea that Jeff Bezos is going up about 106 kilometers. Shepard went up 187 kilometers. Jeff Bezos is going up for 11 minutes. Shepard went up 15 minutes. So, I think he’d really like that,” said Ms Gerulskis.

5 May 1961: Launch of the United States' first manned spaceflight, a sub-orbital mission with astronaut Alan B. Shephard Jr on the Mercury-Redstone MR 3 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.

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