Bezos’ flight will be unique in the history of space tourism

The history of space exploration is merciless to others and followers, because the names of the pioneers mostly remain in people’s memory. This may explain the nervousness with which Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin prepared to start regular suborbital flights with tourists. Jeff Bezos will overtake a competitor in participating in the first unmanned flight of a tourist destination.

Image source: Reuters

So far, the details of the New Shepard flight scheduled for next week have not been fully disclosed, and the descent capsule of this spacecraft was designed for six people, while on the first flight it should only take four tourists. As Reuters explains, the two remaining seats will be empty, none of the professional pilots or employees of Blue Origin will occupy them. Unlike the Virgin Galactic aircraft, which was flown by a pair of pilots, New Shepard will be fully remote-controlled during the 11-minute flight. In fact, this aircraft doesn’t even have controls that allow it to be controlled from the inside.

As experts in the history of space exploration note, the escape of tourists to Earth’s orbit has never been completely unmanned, there have always been professional astronauts or cosmonauts on board. Blue Origin tried to challenge the status of Virgin Galactic’s flight, as the latter’s crew reached an altitude of no more than 86 km, and Jeff Bezos plans to lift its founder and three other people to an altitude of about 100 km in the New Shepard capsule, after which it smoothly will all return to earth with parachutes.

Elon Musk is also trying to join the billionaire space race. SpaceX, the company he founded, expects to launch an all-tourist crew into orbit with Crew Dragon in September, allowing them to stay in space for days. According to people familiar with the matter, Blue Origin began unmanned flights a few years ago as it increased the number of “commercial passengers.” The flight participants will undergo a two-day training course and during the suborbital mission they will be instructed by specialists using voice communication. The purpose of the first flight is to demonstrate the safety of this type of tourism, perhaps for this reason, the crew of New Shepard will include the 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk, who was selected for the astronaut corps in the sixties, but never participated in real flights. .

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