The First Crewed Flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard Space Tourism Rocket

( Jeff Bezos’s space company launches its first crewed mission aboard the New Shepard spacecraft named after the first American in space. )

What is Blue Origin’s New Shepard?

New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall reusable suborbital launch vehicle developed to carry astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line — an imaginary boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The principal parts constituting New Shepard are a pressurized crew capsule with room for six astronauts and a booster rocket (also called a propulsion module), both of which are reusable.

Flight on July 20

Since 2015, New Shepard has successfully flown 15 test flights, but never with passengers onboard. Jeff Bezos’s space company scheduled its first mission flying humans for July 20.

Who will fly to space on New Shepard’s first human flight?

The crew of the first manned New Shepard flight includes four space tourists. Two of them will be the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Bezos wrote on Instagram on June 7.

Billionaires’ space race heats up: Richard Branson’s flight

Along with Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson take part in the race to get to space. However, the billionaires compete in different sectors of space tourism. Musk’s SpaceX is especially interested in orbital tourism — launching private passengers on low-Earth orbit. The company plans to launch Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian space mission, to the Earth’s orbit in September 2021. Meanwhile, Bezos’ Blue Origin rivals Branson’s Virgin Galactic in suborbital tourism — arranging short flights to the edge of space.

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