Science & Technology

Bezos, Branson and the billionaire space race: What to watch when Amazon’s founder blasts off

Sir Richard Branson added new fuel to the billionaire space race July 11 when he and his Virgin Galactic crewmates floated in suborbital space.

“To all you youngsters down there, I used to be as soon as a toddler with a dream, trying up to the stars,” Branson mentioned earlier than unbuckling. “Now, I’m an grownup in a spaceship with numerous different great adults, trying down to a wonderful, lovely Earth. For the subsequent era of dreamers, if we will do that, simply think about what you are able to do.”

Can Jeff Bezos high that? We’ll quickly discover out. Amazon’s founder is set to go even higher as a passenger July 20 on the first crewed flight for his space enterprise Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.

On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its formal approval for New Shepard’s launch, which can carry Bezos and three crewmates.

On this particular episode of the GeekWire Podcast: the daybreak of a brand new period in space tourism, what to watch when the Amazon founder blasts off subsequent week, and what’s subsequent for business space exploration.

Becoming a member of us is longtime space journalist Alan Boyle, GeekWire contributing editor, who has coated Bezos’ space ambitions for years.

Pay attention above, subscribe to GeekWire in any podcast app, and proceed studying for edited highlights from Alan’s commentary.

What this launch means for Bezos and Blue Origin: I feel that there’s a bit of little bit of redemption right here, as a result of Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos have been engaged on this and different tasks for a very long time. And it’s a bit of bit elusive to see the payoff from all that.

He’s engaged on an orbital class rocket known as New Glenn, which has been delayed. Blue Origin competed in a few excessive profile competitions for presidency contracts from NASA or the US Space Pressure, and they misplaced out on these.

So New Shepard is de facto going to be a sign success, and in all probability the highest success that Blue Origin has encountered in its greater than 20 years of existence. If it really works as Jeff Bezos hopes it should … then it’s a signal that Blue Origin has truly achieved one thing having to do with human space flight, high-profile space flight. And if they will flip this into extra successes, then Jeff Bezos’ imaginative and prescient has a a lot better likelihood of coming to fruition.

The non-public danger to Bezos: There’s a danger of dying. That’s all the time the case when you may have one thing that’s as explosive as a rocket ship that you simply’re coping with. It was dangerous for Richard Branson additionally, although that rocket aircraft has been examined. There are three individuals who misplaced their lives in the floor take a look at, and one take a look at pilot died in the course of testing SpaceShipTwo. So it’s dangerous.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft has an escape system if one thing goes incorrect. Throughout the ascent of the rocket, there’s a stable rocket motor that’s supposed to gentle up, and push the passengers to security, in case an emergency happens. But it surely’s nonetheless rocket science, and there are issues that may go incorrect. Particularly with this flight, I feel there’s much more consideration to it, as a result of that is the first one to fly with folks on it.

What this month means for space tourism: I feel it’s a turning level. For a very long time, I had talked about the two-year rule in non-public business space flight, that the period when common of us fly in space all the time appears to be two years away. However now it’s lower than two weeks away, maybe. So I feel that’s a giant deal. It’s a giant deal for the enterprise of space flight.

Unusually sufficient, I’m feeling like that is simply turning into a enterprise, and for people who find themselves well-versed in science fiction and all that, and love Star Wars and Star Trek, perhaps it loses a bit of little bit of an enchantment, as a result of now, it’s only a enterprise, and the filthy lucre is coming into into the image.

I’m of two minds about that. I’m form of unhappy that it’s now not science fiction, unusually sufficient. However I suppose the day that all of us had been considering was coming some day down the street is de facto approaching its dates on the calendar.

Associated: A tale of two spaceships: How Seattle tech titans helped launch suborbital space tours

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