The billionaire’s space flight company, Blue origin, completed the flight readiness review for its first-ever crewed launch, which will send Bezos and three others into suborbital space aboard a vehicle called New Shepherd. The historic mission is scheduled to fly at 9:00 a.m. EDT (1:00 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday, July 20 – the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing – and the recent review didn’t reveal anything that would change that timeline.
“We looked at all of the vehicle’s systems, including hardware, software, procedures and launch crew preparation,” Blue Origin Flight Director Steve Lanius said at a conference. press today (July 18). “We are not currently working on any open issues, and New Shepard is ready to fly. “
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It also looks like the weather will cooperate. There is a slight risk of rain and thunderstorms in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but conditions should be good by the time launch, Lanius said.
New Shepard, a self-contained, reusable rocket-capsule combo, was designed to carry people and payloads on brief trips into suborbital space. Four different New Shepard vehicles have been launched on 15 suborbital test flights to date, but Tuesday’s mission will be the first to carry a crew.
This crew consists of Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000; his brother Marc; pioneer aviator Wally Funk; and 18 years old Olivier Daemen, the company’s first paying customer. Funk, 82, will become the oldest person to ever reach space, and Daemen will be the youngest.
The quartet started their 2 p.m. astronaut training program today (July 19) and will finish it tomorrow, Blue Origin representatives said. This training includes, among other tasks, classroom instruction and practice in a test capsule, and ends with mission rehearsals and a final exam.
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Bezos will be the second billionaire to reach suborbital space in less than two weeks. On July 11, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson crossed the last frontier of the Virgin Galactic VSS Unity Spacecraft First Full Crew Flight.
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are the two main players in the now booming suborbital space tourism business. VSS Unity could begin full commercial operations early next year, if a few more test flights this fall goes well. Blue Origin is already launching a customer on Tuesday’s flight and plans to reassign paying passengers as early as September-October, company officials said today.
“We intend to have two additional flights this year, in 2021, for a total of three [crewed] flights, and many more to come, ”said Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales for Blue Origin, at today’s press conference. “So we have already built up a solid pipeline of interested customers. “
The most recently announced ticket price by Virgin Galactic was $ 250,000. Blue Origin did not disclose the price of a seat. The company held a special auction for a seat on Tuesday’s flight, which was won by someone who pledged $ 28 million. This still mysterious bidder then withdrew from the assignment due to scheduling conflicts, Blue Origin representatives said. His seat was then completed by Daemen.
Visit Space.com on July 20 for full coverage of Blue Origin’s first astronaut launch.
Mike Wall is the author of ” Over there (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.