Blue Origin has received its license to take humans on its Shepard spacecraft from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday.
Jeff Bezos; founder and former CEO of Amazon, alongside his brother Mark Bezos, is set to fly to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s first-ever crewed voyage on July 20. Blue Origin first announced this flight in May.
Blue Origin plans to launch its passengers more than 100km (62 miles) above the earth’s surface, allowing them to have an experience of microgravity and will return to earth under parachutes.
Blue Origin revealed that the license given by the FAA which authorizes it to take humans to space is valid through August. It also revealed that the space mission will be conducted from its Launch Site One facility in Texas.
Before the company acquired its license, the FAA first confirmed that it had met regulatory requirements and standard by demanding that the company verified its launch vehicle’s hardware and software worked safely during a test flight.
In a highly-publicized rivalry between Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, Richard Branson-owned Virgin Galactic has beaten Blue Origin to be the first between the two to make its test flight to space. Richard Branson was aboard the Virgin Galactic rocket plane that took him and a small crew to the edge of space. The Virgin Galactic rocket plan travelled more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert before returning successfully. Talking about Blue Origin’s imminent space flight, he said that “we wish Jeff the absolute best and that he will get up and enjoy his flight”. Jeff Bezos shared a congratulatory message to Richard Branson via Instagram. “Congratulations on the flight. Can’t wait to join the club!”, his post read.
In what is being described as a “billionaire space race”, companies like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are looking to launch an era of commercial space travel. “We’re here to make space more accessible to all. Welcome to the dawn of a new space age”, Richard Branson said.
According to the Swiss investment bank UBS, the potential value of the space tourism market should reach $3 billion annually by 2030.