The two commercial space missions were launched 9 days apart: Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 flight and Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket’s first manned mission. The billionaire founders of the two companies Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos were in flight, and each flew into suborbital space for a few minutes. The two companies plan to start selling tickets on their spacecraft soon.
|Virgin Galactic: V.S.S. Unity||Blue Origins: New Shepard|
|On July 11, the V.S.S. Unity space plane was transported by the mothership to approximately 46,000 feet, then fell and flew into space using its own rocket engine. The aircraft carrying two pilots and four passengers, including Branson, then turned its tail arms to slowly roll back into the Earth’s atmosphere, and then glide again and land on the runway.||On July 20, the 59–foot New Shepard rocket launched a crew capsule carrying Bezos and three other passengers into space. The capsule remained in space for a few minutes, then re–entered the atmosphere and floated back to Earth under the parachute. At the same time, the rocket fell back to Earth and made a vertical landing to fly again.|
First step toward a big dream – Featuring Jeff Bezos
Tuesday’s (20th July 2021) 10-minute flight marked a milestone for Blue Origin. Compared to industry rival SpaceX founded by Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic, which is run by Richard Branson, the company’s development of its spacecraft has been relatively confidential. Like the latter sent Branson into space on July 11, Blue Origin plans to provide flights to customers on the New Shepard beginning later this year. These flights can allow up to 6 people to experience a brief thrill in space, including approximately four minutes of weightlessness.
Bezos said Tuesday Blue Origin is approaching $100 million in sales of seats on future flights.
Last month, Bezos, 57 announced that he is on the flight. This is a surprising movement that knows who knows the person who knows the passion for space. The blue origin, he said: “The most important work I am doing.“ As Brame has fallen as Amazon‘s CEO, many of the spatial industries expected to give more time to their space company, he has a great ambition, but behind the competitor comes late.
Amazon, he has said, was the winning “lottery ticket” that allowed him to fund Blue Origin to the tune of $1 billion a year.
During an event after the flight that had been billed as a news conference but where only three questions were asked, Bezos said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”
He said his expectations for the flight “were high, and they were dramatically exceeded.”
“The zero G piece may have been one of the biggest surprises because it felt so normal,” he said. “It felt almost like as humans we have evolved to be in that environment, which I know is impossible, but it felt so serene and nice and peaceful.”
Bezos said the crew brought a number of items of historical significance on the flight: a piece of canvas from the Wright Flyer, the airplane flown by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903 for the first powered flight; a bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon ever to fly in 1783; and a pair of goggles that Amelia Earhart wore when she flew across the Atlantic Ocean solo.
Funk said she had a wonderful time onboard the spacecraft, and during a video from when the crew reached space, she could be seen rising weightless out of her seat. The crew brought ping-pong balls that they floated around the capsule, and at one point, Bezos could be heard yelling, “Who wants a Skittle?” They then took turns trying to throw the candies into each other’s mouths. Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen safely exited the crew capsule following their 10-minute New Shepard trip, which sent them more than 351,000 feet into the air and back. Audio captured the crew cheering in zero gravity before the capsule successfully parachuted to the ground.
The Amazon CEO exited the hatch first, donning a cowboy hat and giving a thumbs-up to onlookers. The rest of the crew followed, hugging family members on the ground as news cameras snapped photos. They then popped champagne bottles to mark the historic feat, described as a “picture perfect” launch by Gary Lai, Blue Origin’s senior director.
“Congratulations to all of Team Blue past and present on reaching this historic moment in spaceflight history. This first astronaut crew wrote themselves into the history books of space, opening the door through which many after will pass,” Blue Origin posted on Twitter.