Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is going to space with his younger brother, an octogenarian pilot and a teen space enthusiast on July 20. Bezos’ space company Blue Origin has been running the suborbital New Shepard rocket through a series of successful test flights. This will be the spacecraft’s first crewed flight
Former aviator Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old fresh out of high school, will be part of the first crewed mission. In fact, they will become the oldest and youngest travellers to space after this trip.
In the 1960s, Funk joined the Mercury 13 programme -- an unofficial and privately funded programme that gave women the same training that NASA’s official programme offered to male astronauts.
Daemen, who recently obtained his private pilot’s licence, got lucky when the anonymous winner of an auction who had got a spot on New Shepard for $28 million, backed out due to “scheduling conflicts.”
For those not as lucky as Daemen, here’s what to expect.
You can watch the flight live online from 7.30 am EDT (5 pm IST) on July 20 at BlueOrigin.com. Lift-off is scheduled for 9 am EDT (6.30 pm IST), which is subject to change.
New Shepard is a suborbital rocket, which means the trip to space will be brief, about 10-15 minutes from launch to landing. The capsule has large windows to give the passengers a generous view of the Earth below, during about three minutes of time in zero gravity, before returning to the planet.
According to CNBC, New Shepard rocket will carry the crew in a capsule to an altitude of more than 3,40,000 feet.
Though the capsule is designed to fly autonomously without a pilot and carry up to six people, this mission will be shared by four: the Amazon founder’s brother Mark Bezos and aerospace pioneer Wally Funk, apart from Daemen and Bezos himself.
The journey will begin at Blue Origin's launch facility in West Texas. After an initial boost, the capsule will separate from the rocket and continue on past the Karman Line, considered the edge of space, at an altitude of around 62 miles (100 km). It is at this point that the passengers will enjoy about three minutes of weightlessness before heading back to Earth.
Blue Origin’s system launches vertically. The boosters will land on a concrete pad at a company’s facility in Van Horn, Texas, while the capsules will use a set of parachutes and land not far from the launch pad.
The launch date, July 20, marks the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Blue Origin was founded in 2000 by Bezos, who has ploughed in billions through share sales of his Amazon stock.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)