Blue Origin is set to launch Jeff Bezos and crew members to the edge of space in a historic moment that will only last a few minutes. Crew members include Wally Funk, Oliver Daemon and Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos’ brother.
The flight is the culmination of years of work and planning. Blue Origin, the company founded by the world’s richest man and Amazon’s CEO in 2000, has been testing flights of its New Shepard rocket for years, according to CNBC. The space flight scheduled for 9 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, July 20, 2021, will be its first manned flight.
You can watch the livestream of the flight at beginning at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time at BlueOrigin.com. While liftoff is expected at 9 a.m. Eastern time, that could change based on weather or technological difficulties, Space.com noted.
Here’s what you need to know:
Most New Shepard Flights Last 11 Minutes & the Blue Origin Crew Will Briefly Cross the Edge of Space
The Blue Origin crew will cross into space for about three minutes, Space.com reported. Before the manned flight, the rocket has performed 15 test flights without a crew. The most recent flight was on April 14. At that time, Blue Origin announced the manned flight, according to Space.com.
New Shepard is designed to launch its crew into suborbital space for about three minutes, the news outlet reported. The flight is expected to take about 11 minutes.
“It is about 60 feet (18 meters) tall and is designed to shoot passengers into suborbital space for a “weightless” phase of about three minutes,” Space.com reported.
The rocket’s name gives a nod to the early days of space travel. It was named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American to go to space in 1962, according to Space.com.
“Blue Origin’s crew is scheduled to climb in the capsule half an hour before launch,” CNBC reported. “About 20 minutes after the hatch closes, mission control will give the final all clear and then fire the rocket’s engine. New Shepard will steadily accelerate to more than three times the speed of sound and, after detaching from the booster, the capsule is expected to reach an altitude of more than 340,000 feet (or over 100 kilometers).”
Once the crew reaches altitude, they will space “a couple minutes floating in microgravity, with the passengers then floating freely about the capsule,” CNBC reported.
The Edge of Space, Called ‘the Karman Line,’ Is at an Altitude of 100 Kilometers
The edge of space is called the Karman Line, which is at an altitude of 100 kilometers. However, the exact edge of space is a disputed boundary line, according to CNBC. The United States commonly recognizes 80 kilometers to be the edge of space, the news outlet reported. So anyone who crosses 80 kilometers is recognized as an astronaut by the United States.
Why does that boundary line matter? Last week, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic cross the 80-kilometer boundary line, but the spacecraft has not been able to cross 100 kilometers, CNBC reported. So the boundary has been a point of competition for the dueling billionaires, CNBC reported.
“Branson, for his part, does not seem bothered by the comparison — likely because, eight days ago, he became the first billionaire space company founder to launch into space,” CNBC reported.
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