After Sir Richard Branson’s successful space flight last week he won’t be the first billionaire in space, but the journey of Jeff Bezos into space just nine days later is sure to stoke the imagination of many wannabe “space tourists.”
Whether you agree or not with space tourism as a valid pastime for billionaires, the Amazon and Blue Origin founder’s July 20 trip is sure to get a lot of attention. After 15 test flights, it will be the first time people will be inside the capsule on top of his company Blue Origin’s New Shepherd space tourism rocket.
Here’s everything you need to know about how, when and where to see Jeff Bezos in space:
When is Jeff Bezos going to space?
Bezos will head skywards on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 on a journey that from lift-off to soft landing will take just 11 minutes.
Although timings may change due to weather and/or technical issues, the 16th (but first crewed) flight of New Shepherd is scheduled for liftoff 13:00 Universal Time (UTC), which is:
- 06:00 am PST
- 08:00 am CDT
- 09:00 am EST
- 14:00 pm BST
It’s an auspicious date, exactly 52 years after Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the Moon.
Keep an eye on Blue Origin’s Twitter account for updates.
Where to livestream Jeff Bezos going to space
The livestream will begin 90 minutes before the scheduled launch time—so 11:30 UTC on July 20.
Who is going to space with Jeff Bezos?
Jeff Bezos will be one of four would-be astronauts in Blue Origin’s capsule, which is fully autonomous and requires no piloting.
Also inside will be the billionaire’s brother Mark Bezos, 82-year old Wally Funk, one of the so-called “Mercury 13” group of female astronauts, and a thus far unidentified auction winner who paid $28 million for the seat.
Funk will become the oldest person ever to fly to space.
Blue Origin vs. Virgin Galactic: which is best?
The two most famous space tourism offerings are very different.
Blue Origin’s New Shepherd is a rocket that fires a capsule into space, which then parachutes down. Aside from the glossy interior and large windows of the capsule—and the fact that the rocket is reusable and lands back on the launchpad—it’s not much different to how Alan Shepherd, the first American in space, reached space in 1961. It’s even named after him.
Virgin Galactic’s offering is a supersonic space plane called VSS Unity that detaches from a mothership at 52,000 feet, burns its rocket engine for one minute to reach space at Mach 3, then glides back to land on a runway.
Neither can be considered “best,” though while Virgin Galactic reached an altitude of 53.5 miles/86.1 kilometers last week, Blue Origin is aiming for the Kármán Line that some think truly separates Earth and space, which is a little higher at 62 miles/100km up.
However, the U.S. recognises 50 miles/80 kilometres as space, so the distinction is arguably a mere detail.
Where is Blue Origin’s launch site?
Blue Origin’s Launch Site One is in a remote location in the West Texas desert. Completely private, there are no on-site public viewing areas close to the launch site.
In fact, according to Blue Origin, the Texas Department of Transportation will be closing a portion of State Highway 54 adjacent to the launch site and will not allow spectators on the closed portion of the road during the launch.
This is one you’re going to have to watch online.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes