Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin launches the 12th test flight of space tourism rocket, which is slowly and steadily inching towards taking customers for paid space trips. Blue Origin was founded by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos in 2000, and as mentioned in their official website, the vision of the company is to create a future where millions of people are living and working in space. They say that this is necessary to save our planet earth and conserve the resources for future generations.
The spacecraft called New Shepard, took off from the test site in rural Texas on Wednesday marking it’s 12th unhindered space journey. It traveled more than 60 miles to the upper atmosphere and reached the point considered as the edge of space. This might be one of the final test flights of the company before it reaches the milestone and starts its commercial space trips.
According to the statement given by Ariane Cornell, Blue Origins director for sale, earlier this year, the spacecraft was supposed to be in business from 2019. But recently she said that the plans are changed, and the company is getting very close.
The spacecraft New Shepard is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard who was the first American to go to space. It is a reusable suborbital rocket designed to take the passengers beyond the Karman line, the international space boundary within 11 minutes. The passengers will be seated in the capsule, which will detach from the rocket when it almost reaches the top, and during Wednesday’s flight, the rocket reached up to 65 miles in space.
Besides, three parachutes are used to slow down the capsule as it falls back to earth at the rate of 16 miles per hour. The round trip lasted for 10 minutes, from takeoff to landing. After the rocket was detached from the capsule, it reignited itself to reach back to the launch site. Blue Origin claims that the rocket can be reused for another flight with a very minimal amount of maintenance. This was also the 9th flight of New Shepard, the previous flight being in May.
According to a recent press release, NASA is carrying out a project on how to convert common waste into propulsion of life support. The project is named OSCAR.
A competitor for Blue Origin is the Virgin Galactic, which is a space tourism company founded by Richard Branson. Both these companies started their projects in 2000, and they were expected to start the flights by this year, but it seems that they require little more time to perfect their technology and systems.
There are at least 600 customers already lined up for Virgin Galactic and have promised to pay $200,000 to $250,000 per person. Blue Origin has not yet confirmed their cost and has decided not to go pubic until test flights are done.
The sustainability of the business is questionable as we do not know the demand for space travel, and it depends on the world’s ultra-rich for business.
Blue Origin also has other businesses like a massive rocket called New Glenn, which is a competitor for companies like Space X. they are also working along with other aerospace companies to compete with NASA for the contract for Moon lander.
Via – CNBC