American billionaire Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and space company Blue Origin, has announced that he will take part in the first manned flight of the New Shepard capsule, which is due to launch in Texas on July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
He and his brother Mark embark on a quick trip to the edge of the atmosphere, on a suborbital profile flight, accompanied by two other passengers, one of whom will be determined by an auction on Saturday (12). The winner has yet to be announced, but he paid $ 28 million (another 6% for the auctioneer) for the opportunity and won over 6,000 entrants from 143 countries. It’s a fable that Blue Origin donates to its own foundation, Club for the Future.
For similar money it would be possible to swap a seat on a Russian Soyuz probe and spend a few days on the International Space Station. Instead, the Bezos brothers and their flightmates simply climb to an altitude of just over 100 km, spend a few minutes in a microgravity environment, and then return to the ground. From take-off to landing 10 to 12 minutes. In a vehicle that has never been tested on people.
Despite those catches, this is probably the best “roller coaster for the ultra-rich” you will find. A great adventure, a real trip into space and only two days of training before the flight. Much easier than spending months in the City of Stars outside of Moscow and familiarizing yourself with tons of different systems, vehicles designed for professionals rather than tourists.
Furthermore, while this is New Shepard’s first manned flight, this is far from a “balloon priest” program. The vehicle has been extensively tested without a crew and is not very demanding (suborbital flight means less speed than an orbital climb, which also means a smoother re-entry into the atmosphere). Jeff Bezos can bet that you will return safely. What’s more, you can be sure that with Blue Origin you will make a lot of money in space tourism.
It is one of two races he competes with another tycoon, British Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic. The competitor has already completed several manned flights, albeit with a completely different vehicle: the VSS Unity is a rocket aircraft that requires pilots. Branson also intends to fly it and seeks to beat Bezos in the space race. The last test flight was on May 22nd and there are rumors that he might be on board the next on July 4th.
Although Branson personally sees the curvature of the earth in front of Bezos, Blue Origin appears to have an important clue. With her auction she has significantly increased the seat prices on her first flights. Virgin Galactic has already pre-sold hundreds of tickets for $ 250,000 (there is a huge queue including Brazilians waiting to fly). Apparently it was being sold cheaply.
This column is published in Folha Corrida on Mondays.
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