Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin successfully carried out its fourth crewed spaceflight Thursday. It was a ten-minute ride beyond the planet’s atmosphere and back again.
The New Shepard suborbital rocket blasted off from the company’s Launch Site One base in west Texas at 8:58 am local time with six crew members.
The crew included Gary Lai who is the chief architect of the New Shepard program. The crew also includes five paying customers. Thought though the ticket price hasn’t been disclosed.
Lai said, “I felt my skin pulling taut”. Lai’s inclusion came after comedian Pete Davidson who is the boyfriend of reality star Kim Kardashian. Davidson has cancelled his participation without disclosing a reason.
The reusable and zero greenhouse gas emissions rocket landed vertically at a pad, after launch. The capsule continued soaring and crossed the Karman line that marks the start of space which is 100 kilometers high.
Passengers unbuckled and enjoyed a few minutes of weightlessness. They took in the majesty of Earth before the capsule re-entered the atmosphere. They deployed its chutes and floated to the surface for a gentle desert landing.
Blue Origin’s past flights have included its founder Bezos as well as Star Trek icon William Shatner.
The space tourism sector is finally taking off, after years of promise.
Lai told reporters the company was continuing to make improvements to the vehicle “under the hood”. It is aiming at pushing down costs and reducing the time between flights.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is targeting next week to fly three tycoons and a former astronaut to the International Space Station on the Axiom-1 mission. Though the crew involved insist they’re doing serious research work rather than going on vacation.