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Blue Origin Sees Clear Skies for Bezos and His Crewmates’ Maiden Space Flight

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Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos and his three crewmates are participating in an intensive training course Sunday in preparation for his company’s Blue Origin maiden flight to the edge of space planned for Tuesday.

The suborbital launch from a site in the high desert plains of West Texas marks a crucial test for Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, a fully autonomous 60-foot-tall (18.3-meter) rocket-capsule combination that it’s central to Bezos’s plans to tap into a potentially lucrative space tourism market.

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The planned 11-minute journey from the company’s Launch Site One facility is scheduled to include the oldest person ever to go into space: 82-year-old pioneer aviator Wally Funk, and the youngest, physics student from 18 years old Oliver Daemen. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-blueorigin/teenager-to-fly-with-bezos-in-inaugural-space-tourism-flight-idUSKBN2EL1ZJ?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews. Joining them for the launch of Blue Origin will be Bezos, the founder and current CEO https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/whats-next-amazons-bezos-look-his-instagram-2021- 07-03 from Amazon.com Inc, and his brother Mark Bezos.

The https://www.blueorigin.com/news-archive/first-human-flight-updates mission would represent the world’s first pilotless flight into space with an all-civilian crew. Blue Origin, which will not have astronauts on its staff https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/bezos-blue-origin-make-history-with-unpiloted-civilian-space-flight-2021-07 – 14 or trained personnel on board, expressed their confidence in a briefing on Sunday.

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“We are not currently working on any open issues and New Shepard is ready to fly,” said flight director Steve Lanius, adding that the weather forecast looked favorable for the scheduled takeoff at 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) on Tuesday. .

The launch of New Shepard is scheduled nine days after rival Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic successfully carried out a suborbital flight https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/virgin- galactics-branson-ready-space-launch -aboard-rocket-plane-2021-07-11 from New Mexico with the British billionaire inside his rocket plane.

Blue Origin’s training program, according to the company, includes safety briefings, a space flight simulation, a review of the rocket and its operations, and instructions on how to float around the spacecraft’s cockpit after the capsule drops the Earth’s gravity.

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Bezos and his crewmates had started the 14-hour program Sunday and would be ready to “experience the flight of a lifetime,” said Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales at Blue Origin. Cornell said Funk was looking forward to doing some somersaults during the flight.

New Shepard, which cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft, is named after Alan Shepard, who in 1961 became the first American in space during suborbital flight as part of NASA’s pioneering Mercury program.

New Shepard, like the Virgin Galactic flight, will not go into orbit around Earth, but will carry the crew about 100 km (62 miles) before the capsule parachutes back. The Virgin Galactic flight reached 53 miles (86 km) above Earth.

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s space transportation company, SpaceX, is committed to going even higher in September, sending an all-civilian crew for a multi-day orbital flight aboard its Crew Dragon capsule.

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Illustrating the tensions in the high-stakes “multi-million dollar space race,” Blue Origin has described Virgin Galactic as below the 62-mile (100 km) mark, called the Kármán line, set by an international aeronautical body as the definition of the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.

Both the US space agency NASA and the US Air Force define an astronaut as anyone who has flown more than 50 miles (80 km), as Branson achieved with his flight.

The next Blue Origin flight will likely be in late September or early October, CEO Bob Smith said. Smith said “willingness to pay is still pretty high” for people interested in future flights.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; edited by Will Dunham and Lisa Shumaker)

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