This Tuesday at 3 p.m. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the richest man in the world, will fly into space. The stakes are high for his space company Blue Origin. Here are some notable numbers:
Update. It’s done! Jezz Bezos and the other passengers of the Blue Origin rocket named New Shepard went on a (short) trip to space. Everything went as planned: the booster separated perfectly from the rocket at an altitude of around 100km to finally land gently right at the planned location. The shuttle filled with passengers including Jeff Bezos returned to Earth minutes after the booster. The billionaire’s first reaction after landing? “It’s the best day ever,” he said from his capsule.
First manned flight
At 3 p.m. (Belgian time), the New Shepard launcher will leave from a remote site in the American state of Texas. Space company Blue Origin’s rocket has already flown fifteen times without a pilot, but this will be the rocket’s first-ever manned flight. The separate pod will accommodate four astronauts, including Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos.
This space expedition should not last more than 11 minutes, from the launch of the gondola of the passages to the return of the latter to Earth via parachutes. Three minutes after the start, they can loosen their belts to experience weightlessness. The overall space journey, including preparation time until exiting the capsule, lasts 52 minutes.
Jeff Bezos felt it was important that his younger brother Mark, with whom he has a close relationship, was given a seat. This is the first time that two brothers have flown into space together.
82 years old
Bezos also invited American aviation pioneer Wally Funk. At 82, she will become the oldest woman and more generally the oldest human being to take a tour of space. Funk was among the first group of female astronauts from the United States in the 1960s, but none of them ever went to space.
18 years old
While Funk is the oldest “astronaut” ever, 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen will be the youngest. Her father, a wealthy entrepreneur, participated in the international auction organized by Blue Origin to secure a place on the expedition. The Daemen family was unsuccessful, but were later “drafted”. According to the space company, Daemen is “the representative of the new generation”. When the craft leaves the atmosphere, Daemen will become the youngest astronaut ever. This record is still held by Russian German Titov, who was 25 when he went into space in 1961.
The fact that the young Dutchman is allowed to join the Blue Origin rocket is not really a coincidence. Indeed, the person who had managed to afford the place in the passenger basket against 28 million dollars had to give up this adventure. Due to a “schedule issue”, this lucky buyer will only be included on the next flight. The amount paid by his father has not been made public, but Oliver Daemen thus becomes Blue Origin’s first-ever paying space tourist.
9 days later
Jeff Bezos’ space debut comes just nine days after another multi-billionaire, Britain’s Richard Branson, soared into space with his own space company: Virgin Galactic.
106 kilometers high
However, according to some space experts, Branson didn’t actually go to space. Virgin’s spacecraft only reached 86 kilometers high, while the Kármán line, an imaginary boundary 100 kilometers away, is often used to distinguish between aviation and space travel. According to plans, the capsule with Bezos and co will reach a height of 106 kilometers, and thus fly for a few minutes in “real” space.
The bulk of the work is for the New Shepard launcher, named after legendary astronaut Alan Shepard. The 18-meter-tall rocket will rise vertically to an altitude of 75 kilometers and then release the passenger basket, which will climb further to more than 100 kilometers in altitude. The launcher must land on Earth a few minutes before the passenger basket.
Not only the Bezos family, but also several insurers and bankers will follow the theft with interest. With an estimated net worth of $204 billion, Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world. If all goes well, he will also become the richest person in space. Bezos recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, but remains executive chairman.
You can relive Blue Origin’s spaceflight below: