The 57-year-old Amazon founder billionaire, Jeff Bezos, performed this Tuesday morning (20) another remarkable feat, in addition to being the richest man in the world: he made his first space trip aboard the New Shepard aircraft built by his company, Blue Origin.
New Shepard took off at 10:12 am (GMT) and lasted approximately ten minutes. Designed to be guided by autonomous driving, that is, without the use of pilots, the Blue Origin mission took off from a desert in the state of Texas, in the United States, and was entirely successful.
Alongside Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and the oldest and youngest person to travel into space were also present: 82-year-old American aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen.
New Shepard crew in front of the rocket in Texas.Source: Blue Origin
New Shepard has performed a suborbital space flight, that is, a flight that reaches space but does not, however, complete a full orbit around the Earth. In this type of flight, the aircraft reaches an altitude equal to or greater than 100 kilometers, a limit known as the Karman Line, which delimits the Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The altitude was chosen by the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI, its acronym in French Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) because it is the approximate region in which an aircraft or rocket, flying fast enough to support its own weight with aerodynamic support of the Earth’s atmosphere, would be flying faster than the orbital speed. Flights below this limit are sometimes called suborbital flights, but they are not spaceflights.
New Shepard Flight Profile.Source: Blue Origin
The Bezos aircraft, whose name honors Alan Shepard (first American to go into space 60 years ago, in 1961) made the 16th flight of Blue Origin this morning, however, it was the first with civilian passengers on board. Three minutes after take-off, the passenger module was uncoupled from the propeller and continued to climb until it crossed the 100-kilometer limit.
While passengers in the capsule spent about three minutes of free flight, experiencing and enjoying the feeling of weightlessness and a unique view of our planet, the New Shepard’s thruster returned in a controlled manner to Earth, restarting the engines and directing the propulsion. for the brake system, until landing vertically, similar to the Falcon 9, from SpaceX.
New Shepard crew in free flight in space.Source: Blue Origin/Reuters
Then, after the precious minutes of free flight, the capsule returned to Earth in free fall, cushioning its weight and reducing its descent speed with the help of three large parachutes, until it gently landed on the ground at 10:22 am. Upon exiting the capsule, all passengers appeared to be fine.
Blue Origin capsule safely returns to Earth.Source: Tony Gutierrez/AP
While they have similar interests and goals to foster space tourism, many characteristics of Jeff Bezos’ flight differ from last week’s flight by Richard Branson and rival aerospace company Virgin Galactic. On July 11 of this year, Virgin Galactic’s first suborbital flight took place, which also had its founder on board.
Unlike the Blue Origin flight, Branson went into space aboard an unconventional plane coupled to a rocket unit called the VSS Unity, which broke free of the carrier and headed toward the boundary between atmosphere and space. In addition, Branson experienced a greater free flight experience and the total flight, between ascent and descent, lasted more than an hour. Bezos, however, reached higher, passing a little over 100 kilometers in altitude, while Branson stayed at an altitude of approximately 89 kilometers.