The privately-owned company, Blue Origin, successfully launches the New Shepard for the tenth time. This is a large step for the company. The ultimate goal is to have human tourists in space by the end of this year.
The Alan Shepard
The rocket is named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard. The launch took place in West Texas on January 23 at 9:08 A.M. local time. New Shepard reaches an altitude of about 66-miles, beyond the boundary of space.
On board is a lofting capsule that intends to send humans to space. Its six large windows will allow paying customers to experience approximately four minutes of weightlessness before parachuting back to Earth.
Tickets are not yet on sale, but the goal is to have them on the market by the end of this year. Rumors are suggesting that they will be similar in cost of a ticket on Virgin Galactic’s space plane, which start at $250,000.
The last flight, on July 18, tested key safety mechanisms for its future manned missions. For this flight, the capsules will be analyzing the behavior of dust particles in space.
Jeff Bezos’ Vision
CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is also the owner of Blue Origin, which is nearly two decades old. Bezos believes that there will be nearly 1 trillion people working and living across the solar system. NASA pays privatized companies to test and demonstrate technology through their Flight Opportunity program.
The eight payloads on the New Shepard are a variety of experiments such as gathering data on vibration experiences in flight and testing possible solutions for cooling electronics on the spacecraft.
Blue Origin is the first company to successfully launch a rocket into space and land it back on the ground. However, they are not the only company with their eyes set on space tourism.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has their eyes set on Mars, whereas Bezos’ ultimate vision is space colonies. They both have a long way to go to get where they want to be, but by the end of 2019, we are expecting to see four separate US companies successfully launch humans into space!