Founder and former CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is all set to delve into a new venture, as he awaits his take off into space today. Blue Orgin's spaceport in Van Horn will augment his 10-minute visit to space. He will be accompanied by his brother Mark, female aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutchman. Funk is 82-years old which will make her and Oliver the eldest and youngest persons to go into space, respectively.
No test pilots or flight engineers will accompany these four on the debut of Bezos's space tourism venture. The trip will be from west Texas to beyond the Karman line and back again, and will coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the first Moon landing.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson made the voyage on July 11, narrowly beating the Amazon magnate in their battle of the billionaires. But Bezos, like Branson, insists it wasn't a contest.
Blue Origin capsule is entirely automated, unlike Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane that required two pilots to get him to space and back a week ago.
Jeff Bezos is also aiming higher, with an anticipated altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers) versus Branson’s 53.5 miles (86 kilometers). Blue Origin’s 60-foot (18-meter) New Shepard rocket will accelerate toward space at three times the speed of sound, or Mach 3, before separating from the capsule and returning for an upright landing.
Blue Origin has completed 15 test flights to space since 2015, carrying up experiments, children’s postcards and Mannequin Skywalker, the company’s passenger stand-in.
Except for the booster crash-landing on the first trip, all the demos were successful. One rocket ended up flying seven times and another five.
The capsules also were recycled. Blue Origin deliberately aborted a couple flights after liftoff to test the emergency escape system on the capsule.
Blue Origin is expected to open ticket sales soon after Bezos flies and has already lined up some of the other auction bidders. The company hasn’t disclosed the cost of a ride. The fourth seat on the upcoming flight was auctioned off for $28 million, which was secured by Oliver Daeman.