Commercial tourist flights into space may begin as early as next year.
Half a century after the United States and the Soviet Union competed in space, a different kind of space race is underway. This time, the parties are immersive businessmen whose companies open up space for tourists.
British creator of the Virgin Empire Richard Branson and the American founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos run by competing space tourism companies, which are soon set to fly tourists with a wallet thick enough into space.
The first round of the race is already underway, and Branson is in the process of surviving as the winner.
Weather and technology allow, Branson is scheduled to fly into space on Sunday with his Virgin Galactic spacecraft VSS Unity. Bezos will make its own spaceflight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard on July 20th.
Branson’s flight is scheduled to depart from New Mexico from the United States at 4 pm Finnish time on Sunday.
Virgin Galacticin and Blue Origin’s approaches to rushing tourists into space are very different. However, the basic experience of riding is largely the same, a few minutes in weightless mode.
Virgin Galactic takes its VSS Unity high above the ground with a special carrier aircraft, from which the smaller VSS Unity then detaches and accelerates with rocket engines more than three times faster than sound.
Technically speaking, on the space side, and after the passengers have been in a weightless state for a few minutes, the ship returns to the surface and lands on the runway like a traditional airplane.
The Blue Origin is a more traditional spaceflight in which the New Shepard takes off vertically from the ground.
Eventually, the crew-carrying module detaches from the launcher near the highest point of the flight and hovers in space for a few minutes before slowly returning to the ground with three large parachutes. The launcher also lands back on the ground in a controlled manner and must be reused.
Bezos is currently the richest person in the world with a wealth value of Bloombergin according to more than $ 200 billion. Branson’s assets are significantly smaller, at about $ 5.6 billion.
Branson, 70, founded Virgin Galactic in 2004. Bezos, 57, in turn founded Blue Origin as early as 2000.
There has been talk of space tourism for a long time, but in recent years it has begun to become a reality. Individual space trips by millionaires have already been made with Russian Soyuz rockets, but tourist flights will soon become regular.
“Anyone can get into space if there is enough wealth. It is not necessary to have contacts in the US or Chinese space administration, ”said Aalto University professor of space science and technology Esa Kallio To BTI in April, when Yuri Gagarin 60 years have passed since the historic spaceflight.
When announcing on his space flight, Branson expressed similar thoughts.
“I really believe that space belongs to all of us. Virgin Galactic stands at the forefront of the new commercial space industry. It is opening up space for humanity and changing the world for the better. ”
Virgin Galactic is scheduled to launch commercial spaceflight next year. Blue Origin has not announced the exact time for the start of commercial flights.
Bezosin his brother, a tourist who paid $ 28 million for the flight at auction, and an 82-year-old pilot known as a border breaker Wally Funk.
Funk went through an astronaut training program in the early 1960s, but did not get involved in the U.S. Space Agency’s NASA program, which only included men.
“I thought I would never be able to go up there again,” Funk said when Bezos told me about getting on the flight.
Funk is an experienced pilot who was the first female flight safety inspector on the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Now he is becoming the oldest man in space ever. American astronaut John Glen went into space at the age of 77 in 1998 aboard the Discovery space shuttle.
With Branson, Virgin Galactic’s flight has three other passengers in addition to the two pilots who are in charge of the company. Branson says he is evaluating the space flight customer experience on the flight.