Blue Origin, owned by the world’s richest man – Jeff Bezos, is set to make its maiden and historic space flight to space today. The suborbital flight will be made on the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle and will be part of the foundation of a new era of commercial space travel. The flight will take off from a desert site in Texas on an eleven-minute trip to space.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has, however, beaten Jeff Bezos Blue Origin following the successful flight to and fro last week. Richard Branson has therefore won bragging rights in a highly-publicized rivalry with Jeff Bezos on whose company would make it to space first. Although Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic made the trip to space ahead of Blue Origin, the latter is set to fly higher than the former. Richard Branson along with a small crew traveled 53 miles (83km) above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane. Jeff Bezos is set to beat the record as he is set to fly 62 miles (100km) above the Texas desert – in what experts call the world’s first unpiloted space flight with an all-civilian crew.
Aboard the flight will be the founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old pioneering female aviator Wally Funk, and recent high school graduate and space nerd Oliver Daemen, 18. Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen are set to become the oldest and youngest people to reach space. Wally Funk was a member of the so-called Mercury 13 group of women who trained to become NASA astronauts in the early 1960s but couldn’t because of her gender. On the other hand, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen who is Blue Origin’s first paying customer plans on attending the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management this September. His father Joes Daemen, heads investment management firm Somerset Capital Partners.
In an interview with Fox Business Network on Monday, Jeff Bezos said that “I am excited, but not anxious. We’ll see how I feel when I’m strapped into my seat. We’re ready. The vehicle’s ready. This team is amazing. I feel very good about it. And I think my fellow crewmates feel good about it, too.”
Blue Origin’s New Shepard is expected to take off by 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One facility about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural Texas town of Van Horn if there are no technical or weather-related delays.
Tesla‘s CEO Elon Musk sent Jeff Bezos and everyone traveling on the New Shepard vehicle his regards and wished them the “best of luck”. After his successful voyage, billionaire Richard Branson sent Jeff Bezos his regards on Blue Origin’s imminent space flight. “We wish Jeff the absolute best and that he will get up and enjoy his flight”, he said.
Blue Origin received its license to take humans on its New Shepard spacecraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week Monday.