The FAA has approved Blue Origin’s maiden crewed rocket voyage, which is scheduled for July 20th and will include the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos.
The New Shepard flight will take Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and three other passengers to the Kármán line, just beyond the edge of space.
Blue Origin had to verify New Shepard’s hardware and software operation during its NS-15 test flight on April 14th, 2021, in order to receive the certification.
If everything goes as planned, the New Shepard booster and capsule, carrying astronauts, will launch to an altitude of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).
The booster will eventually separate from the capsule and attempt to land on Earth, while the capsule will descend to the ground using a triple parachute system.
Rival Richard Branson, aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, became the first billionaire in space before Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin, on the other hand, claimed that Virgin Galactic did not truly go to space because it “only” went 57 miles up and did not cross the Kármán line, which many consider to be the edge of space.
In any case, unlike SpaceX, which is set to conduct a true orbital flight with passengers later this year, neither company will be taking passengers into orbit. The prices for the various systems are also vastly different.
Customers of Virgin Galactic pay $250,000 for a ticket to the edge of space, Blue Origin space tourists are expected to pay around $500,000, and SpaceX customers will pay $55 million for a 10-day mission to the ISS.
A seat on the inaugural Blue Horizon flight with Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, sold at auction for $28 million to an unnamed buyer. That’s a lot of money for a flight that will only last about 10 minutes, but it should be an exciting ride.