Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is scheduled to rocket to the edge of space and will be spending a few minutes outside the Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday on the company’s first crewed trip.
The historic launch marks the 52nd anniversary of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing, but the space-faring environment has changed dramatically since then as many billionaires emerge as major participants in the new race to the cosmos.
Bezos, who is the world’s wealthiest man according to Bloomberg statistics, has said that the spaceflight would fulfil a longtime ambition.
He has also voiced optimism that Blue Origin would make space more accessible to everyone, despite the fact that the inaugural flight’s first ticket sold for a staggering $28 million. However, the mystery bidder who spent $28 million would be unable to attend Tuesday’s auction owing to “schedule difficulties.” Blue Origin has not revealed the amount paid by the youngster who replaced the original bidder.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will be joined on the historic trip by his brother, Mark Bezos, making it the world’s youngest and oldest to go outside the Earth’s atmosphere, Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemon, 18. Wally Funk is a pioneering female pilot who prepared to be an astronaut during the initial US-Soviet space race but was denied due to the fact that they were only sending males into space at the time. The auction winner, Daemon, is a Dutch student who will begin studies at Utrecht University this autumn. He is Blue Origin’s first paying client after the withdrawal of the original auction winner.
The first Blue Origin flight is set to depart from a rural facility north of Van Horn, Texas, at 9 a.m. ET. The trip will last 11 minutes in total, with roughly three minutes spent above the Karman line, which some see as the dividing line between outer space and Earth’s atmosphere. Following re-entry, the astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth by parachute landing in the desert of west Texas.
ABC News will broadcast the event live, and it will also be streamed live on Blue Origin’s website. At 7:30 a.m. ET, the live broadcast will begin. In contrast to the majority of spaceflights, there happens to be no on-site public viewing places at the launch site. The freshly minted astronauts are scheduled to hold a news conference soon after re-entry into the atmosphere.
The capsule is completely self-sufficient and does not need a pilot. While the new Shepard of Blue Origin has completed 15 test flights without people aboard, Tuesday’s trip will be the first with humans aboard.
The concept of “space” has become a source of contention in the current space race, with Sir Richard Branson facing criticism for failing to cross the Karman line (about 62 miles above the earth) during his Virgin Galactic mission earlier this month. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic’s trips, on the other hand, will not reach Earth’s orbit in the same manner that SpaceX missions of Elon Musk have. Elon Musk, another wealthy participant in the new space race, has pointed out this “significant difference” on Twitter.
While some argue that the modern space race has become a playground for the ultra-rich at a time when a global pandemic has exacerbated inequities on Earth, others argue that the rise in the involvement of the private sector has secured NASA money and increased technological advancements – which, in the long run, has the prospect to open up space tourism to everyone who has ever been curious about the cosmos.
Nonetheless, the millionaire daredevils who are employing themselves as guinea pigs for private space tourism companies have not received the same level of backing as astronauts during the initial US-Soviet space race. The enmity was heightened by allegations that Jeff Bezos, and Musk had evaded paying income taxes. A Change.org petition urging Bezos to remain in space has received widespread attention and surpassed 160,000 signatures.