With Jeff Bezos heading to space on Tuesday and the billionaire space race heating up, SpaceX’s Elon Musk has wished his counterpart well.
Early Tuesday morning, Musk, 50, tweeted, “Good luck tomorrow” [Tuesday morning] while Bezos, 57, his 53-year-old brother Mark, Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen go to space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
Elon Musk of SpaceX wished Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin the best of luck with his flight into space. Musk, 50, tweeted: ‘Good luck tomorrow’ [Tuesday morning]
At age 82, Funk will become the oldest person to fly to space, surpassing former NASA astronaut John Glenn, while Daemen will be the youngest.
The launch is scheduled for 2:00 PM BST (09:00 AM EDT) and will see the crew go into space to experience weightlessness for about four minutes before falling back to Earth.
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who became the first billionaire in space, also wished Bezos the best
Richard Branson flew 53 miles over the New Mexico desert during his journey into space on July 15
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who became the first billionaire in space earlier this month, beating his rivals, also wished Bezos the best.
‘Best wishes [Jeff Bezos] and the Blue Origin crew from all of us at Virgin Galactic,” Branson wrote on Bezos’ Instagram.
The four astronauts will fly up to 66 miles above Earth’s surface with the fully autonomous New Shepard rocket and capsule, sending Bezos 21 miles higher than billionaire rival Sir Richard Branson who flew to space on July 11.
The group will travel into space in a capsule with the largest windows, offering stunning views of Earth, the space tourism company said.
It’s going to be a competitive market, with some estimates suggesting it could be worth up to several trillions of dollars in the future, with tickets initially costing up to $250,000 for a single seat at the edge of the room.
Bezos, 57, will fly with the three other astronauts up to 66 miles above the Earth’s surface in the fully autonomous rocket and capsule New Shepard
Blue Origin named the New Shepard program after astronaut Alan Shepard, who exactly 60 years ago became the first American to fly into space.
Fifteen previous test flights of the reusable rocket, which takes the capsule to an altitude of more than 340,000 fleet, and capsule since 2015 – short hops of about 10 minutes – have all been successful.
Musk’s SpaceX competes with Bezos’ Blue Origin for lucrative government contracts
Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are not only competing for media attention and the democratization of space, but all three are competing for lucrative government contracts, most notably Blue Origin and SpaceX.
according to The Wall Street JournalSpaceX has received $2.8 billion in 52 contracts from NASA and the Pentagon over the past 14 federal fiscal years.
In comparison, Blue Origin, founded in 2000, has received $496.5 million in 33 contracts.
Both Blue Origin and SpaceX (along with Dynetics) received lucrative NASA contracts in 2020 to build lunar landing systems to transport NASA astronauts for Artemis lunar missions.
A NASA spokesperson eventually confirmed that Blue Origin would receive $579 million, while SpaceX and Dynetics would receive $135 million and $253 million, respectively.
On July 13, Blue Origin received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday to launch people on the New Shepard rocket into space on July 20.
Standing 60 feet tall, New Shepard was designed specifically for Blue Origin’s space tourism venture and has successfully completed 15 test launches, the latest on April 14.
The capsule that rides on top of New Shepard seats six passengers and is equipped with reclining seats.
Each of the seats has a window that is said to be ‘the largest for flying into space’.
Cameras line the interior, allowing travelers to share their memories that are truly out of this world.
The crew will travel 62 miles above the Earth’s surface where they will experience weightlessness due to gravity and see the planet’s curvature with the darkness of space as a backdrop.
However, Blue Origin’s maiden voyage will travel further than Branson’s, which reached an altitude of 53.5 miles over the New Mexico desert before floating safely back to Earth.
It’s not clear how long they’ll spend just outside space, but Blue Origin has stated in the past that paying customers will spend as much as 10 minutes in weightlessness before returning to Earth.
The billionaire space race is fueled by optimism that space travel will become mainstream as emerging technology proves itself and costs fall, which UBS estimates could represent a $3 billion annual tourist market by 2030.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, as well as Musk’s SpaceX, have also discussed using their rockets to connect distant world cities.
UBS says the long-haul travel market could be worth more than $20 billion, though various impediments such as air safety certification could derail the plans.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said, “Putting the world’s richest man and one of the most recognized figures in business in space is a huge advertisement for space as a domain for exploration, industrialization and investment.”
Blue Origin has not disclosed its pricing strategy for future trips.
In 2018, Blue Origin planned to charge passengers at least $200,000 for the ride, based on market research and other considerations, though thinking may have changed.
Blue Origin, based in Washington state, is largely self-funded by Bezos, which sells more than $1 billion worth of shares in Amazon annually to fund the company.
The company recently conducted its first astronaut rehearsal in preparation for sending the first manned New Shepard into space.
The fake crew traveled the designated path of future spacefaring tourists, which included traveling to the launch pad and climbing the tower to the passenger capsule.
While the celebrities and the very wealthy appear to be a core market for aerospace forays, industry sources expect, at least initially, that Blue Origin will add a philanthropic component to its ticketing strategy.
The idea of sending paying customers to the edge of space was once just a plot in science fiction movies, but many companies other than Blue Origin are making the epic journey a reality.
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS COMPETE FOR GALACTIC SUPREMATION
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk, aka the ‘NewSpace’ set, all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US defeated the Soviet Union in the space race, and there’s no question how much it would mean for each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos appeared to be the first of the three to fly to space after announcing plans to launch on July 20 aboard the New Shepard spacecraft from his space company Blue Origin.
The billionaire tycoon will travel with his younger brother Mark, a $28 million charity auction winner and trailblazing female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
However, Branson has now announced that he plans to make a suborbital flight nine days ahead of Bezos and his brother. He revealed on Twitter that he plans to be Astronaut 001 on Virgin Galactic’s July 11 test flight.
Although Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has said he wants to go into space, and even “die on Mars,” he hasn’t said when he could orbit Earth.
SpaceX appears to be leading the wider space race of billionaires with numerous launches bringing NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6, 2018, SpaceX sent a rocket to Mars orbit, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
NASA has already selected two astronauts to be aboard the first manned Dragon mission.
SpaceX has also started sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network.
Musk hopes this will spawn an interconnected web of satellites around Earth that will beam free internet to people around the world.
Branson and Virgin Galactic take a different approach to conquer space. It has repeatedly and successfully conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceplane.
The former took place in December 2018 and the latter on May 22, with the flight accelerating to over 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent clients, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket company SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic vessel
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one on the side and one above the head.
The spaceship is 60 ft long with a 90-inch diameter cabin, giving the astronauts maximum space to float in weightlessness.
It climbs to 50,000 feet before the rocket motor ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become “astronauts” when they reach the Karman line, the limit of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft will then make a suborbital journey with about six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight taking about 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he funds Blue Origin with approximately $1 billion (£720 million) worth of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurized crew pod atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster missile.
Bezos is one of the richest men in the world and Blue Origin has successfully flown the New Shepard rocket 15 times.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometers), just above the official space threshold, and landed vertically seven minutes after launch.