The “billionaire space race” is well underway with the next mega-wealthy space fiend to head up in his own rocket ship next week.
As you may know by now, Richard Branson became the first man to travel to space in his own vessel on Sunday (July 11).
As promised, nine days later, the biggest billionaire of them all, Jeff Bezos, is getting ready to take his own New Shepard rocket ship into space.
Per CNET, the date is set for July 20 and as Bezos’ company Blue Origin mentioned, New Shepard will fly “above the Kármán line so none of [the company’s] astronauts [will] have an asterisk next to their name”.
In this side by side comparison shared before Branson made his flight, there is little subtlety on display:
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
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 9, 2021
This is Bezos’ competitive edge over Branson, as he aims to fly further than just the “edge of space” and over the mark set by an international aeronautics body as defining the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Although, the debate over the exact boundaries of space is messy and probably a little bit pointless, too.
Let’s just stick to the fact that these chaps are only trying to pull one over each other as they compete for what is really an elaborate PR stunt to make commercial space travel a thing, and not really about wholesome and scientific space exploration.
After New Shepard’s six years and 15 test flights, Bezos will shimmy up to space inside it, alongside his brother Mark, aeronautics pioneer Wally Funk (pictured above alongside Bezos), and an auction winner that has yet to be announced:
The pressurised 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.
The auction winner paid $28 million for the fourth and final seat on the flight, by the way.
A quick note on Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, who is a rather impressive 82-year-old lady.
She has never been to space even though she was a member of the “Mercury 13” group of women who underwent the same testing as NASA astronauts.
Now she is finally reaching her ultimate goal and would beat Branson in being the oldest person to travel to space.
Her story makes for a neat addition to Bezos’ space pursuit:
Moving on to how you can watch Jeff Bezos blast off on Tuesday, July 20.
You can watch the launch live at BlueOrigin.com at 3PM South African time, and Blue Origin’s coverage will start from 1:30PM.
My eyes will be on Elon Musk’s Twitter feed, though.
[imagesource: Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images] We aren't yet out of the...
[imagesource: Shutterstock] With many crypto investors jealously watching on as gold an...
[imagesource:here] South Asia's equivalent to South Africa’s Cullinan Mine, situated ...
[imagesource:here] It looks like we could be in for a cracking finish to the Formula On...
[imagesource: Shutterstock] The Olympics are flying along, South Africa has two medals ...