Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos has launched its second crewed mission on Wednesday.
The crew comprises Canadian actor, William Shatner, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the popular sci-fi movie series ‘Star Trek’.
It also includes the vice president of New Shepard Operations, Audrey Powers; the co-founder of satellite imagery company, Planet Labs, Chris Boshuizen; and Glen de Vries the co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions.
The trip was historic as it made the 90-year-old Shatner the oldest person to travel to space, breaking the record a few months after 82-year old Wally Funk set it as part of The New Shepard rocket mission (NS-18) which took off from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas.
The company tweeted that the rocket reached 2,235mph (3,597kph) and the mission lasted 10 minutes and 17 seconds. The crew experienced about 4 minutes of weightlessness.
New Shepard’s capsule accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound to pass beyond the United States’ 80-kilometer (50-mile) space barrier. The self-flown capsule thereafter detached from the rocket and safely delivered the crew back to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing near Blue Origin’s West Texas facilities.
This trip is coming three months after the inaugural Blue Origin trip that was led by founder, Jeff Bezos, 82-year-old Wally Funk and 2 others.
“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everyone needs to see. It was unbelievable. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. It’s so much larger than me and life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death”William Shatner
Space travel, tagged ‘Billionaires Space Race’ by critics, has received a lot of popularity over the past few years. Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson was the first billionaire to reach space with the successful test flight of VSS Unity by Virgin Galactic alongside five other crew members.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also a player in the commercial space travel business as it has been awarded a $9.4 million contract by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Blue origin was also awarded $26.5 million to develop lander design concepts, including conducting component tests and evaluating them for things like performance and safety.
Future of space travel
The Amazon chief has said that these sojourns to space can lead to reusable infrastructure that can make the cost of space travel affordable so that more people will have the opportunity to go to space and create “amazing things that make life better here on Earth.”
Blue Origin has sold over $100 million worth of tickets to future passengers interested in space tourism. Virgin Galactic’s commercial flights to space for wealthy passengers are billed to commence in 2022, with seats on the spacecraft likely to sell for more than $250,000 per passenger.
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