Space tourism: Successful trip by Blue Origin

English Section / 22 mai

Space tourism: Successful trip by Blue Origin

Versiunea în limba română

Space tourism is a reality of this century. The steps are still small, but the direction is clear: up, up. Blue Origin, the space company of billionaire Jeff Bezos, launched a crew of six from West Texas to the edge of space, resuming activities for its space tourism division for the first time since its suborbital New Shepard rocket was forced to remains on the ground after an incident in 2022. "I'm ecstatic," said Ed Dwight after the landing, who, at the age of 90 years and eight months, became the world's oldest person to fly in space. Ed Dwight and the other passengers, seated in a capsule at the top of the carrier rocket, were launched from a base owned by Blue Origin near a desert and isolated town, Van Horn, located in the western US state of Texas. The rocket successfully separated from the capsule, which then climbed beyond the boundary of Earth's atmosphere to an altitude of 105.7 km (65.7 miles), while the booster returned to the ground as planned. The capsule then returned to Earth with the help of parachutes, ending a mission that lasted about 10 minutes. One of the capsule's three parachutes did not fully inflate, a problem that could be looked into carefully before the rocket's next flight. Ed Dwight was the first African-American to hold the status of astronaut candidate and was chosen by former US President John Kennedy in 1961 to train as an astronaut, but until the Blue Origin flight he never reached space. Blue Origin has so far sent 37 private astronauts into space, including in 2021 one of the stars of the TV series "Star Trek", actor William Shatner, who was 90 years and six months old at the time. The passengers on that ride, which included a venture capitalist and a pilot, were paying customers of Blue Origin's space tourism division, but Ed Dwight's seat was sponsored by a space-focused nonprofit and by a private foundation. Blue Origin has not disclosed the amounts charged to its customers for a ticket aboard its space rocket. Blue Origin, a company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, transports people beyond the Karman Line, which marks the altitude of 100 kilometers and is considered the border with space, according to an international convention. Blue Origin's space tourism flights only last around ten minutes, but allow passengers to admire the curvature of the Earth and briefly float in weightlessness inside the capsule.

In the field of suborbital space tourism, Blue Origin faces competition from billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, whose VSS Unity spaceplane sends passengers into space by taking off from the horizontal, just like a traditional plane. Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity is set to launch its seventh commercial mission next month, before Virgin Galactic pauses its space flight program until 2026 to modernize its fleet.