Mission accomplished: Blue Origin has also successfully taken tourists into space

Mission accomplished: Blue Origin has also successfully taken tourists into space

Jeff Bezos (centre), Wally Funk (right) and Oliver Damon (left) exit the capsule after landing.AFP photo

And that’s two. Or three, if you count the professional astronauts that SpaceX flew to the International Space Station last year. Once again, a commercial company has successfully cracked the imaginary boundaries of space.

Shortly after 3 o’clock Dutch time, the New Shepard rocket blasted off from “Launch Site One” in West Texas with the necessary view into space. On board are four passengers in bright blue astronaut suits: Bezos with his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk.

Living and working in space

As we are accustomed to modern spaceflight, particularly those of commercial clubs like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and now Blue Origin, interested parties have been able to catch up in advance in a live broadcast filled with heart-pounding interviews, and Hollywood-like music. Awesome promotional videos and of course always obligatory and exciting photos. From the launch itself. At the peak, more than 550 thousand . followed People from all over the world departure of Bezos and his companions.

Brothers Jeff and Mark Bezos before entering the New Shepard on a journey into space.  Reuters photo
Brothers Jeff and Mark Bezos before entering the New Shepard on a journey into space.Reuters photo

“A historic day for humanity, as we move toward a future where we live and work in space,” the company announced with great exaggeration. “When people look at Earth from somewhere in the future from a dusty moon, they will remember this day.” Blue Origin dreams of a future where they not only send tourists to space, but also to the moon and beyond.

“You are now leaving Earth”

After a few minutes, it became clear that the New Shepard had already reached space. Although there is no sign anywhere that says “You are now leaving Earth, welcome to space,” you can roughly tell whether you’re flying too high or really stepping across the frontier with the universe.

Richard Branson previously made use of Virgin Galactic, for example, 80 kilometers, which is the altitude NASA uses as the definition of the frontier to space. Blue Origin went one step further on Tuesday and flew its passengers over the so-called Karman Line 100 kilometers away, the most common definition of the beginning of the universe.

space tourist

For the New Shepard spaceship, it was the sixteenth flight in all, and the first on board. During their nearly ten-minute flight, they became the next four passengers on the modest list of more than 500 people who have ever been in space.

On the left from the window, Dutch passenger Oliver Damen can be seen preparing for the flight.  AFP photo
In the left window, Dutch passenger Oliver Daemen can be seen preparing for the flight.AFP photo

At the same time, the difference between a space tourist and a professional astronaut is still huge, compared to the difference between someone taking a plane for vacation and the pilot flying that plane. While a professional astronaut is behind the controls after a year and a half of training, passengers aboard New Shepard can sit back and enjoy the view after a brief two-day training.

At the same time, a trip to space is not nearly as safe as boarding an airplane on a city trip. To date, 19 astronauts have died in space, which is approximately 3.5% of the total. With similar numbers, no one will ever get on an airplane again.

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