Officials from rocket company Blue Origin said Tuesday they were on track for their first human spaceflight, which will take founder Jeff Bezos and three passengers to a suburb of Hop 100km west of Texas.
Leading flight director Steve Lanias told reporters during a call that the engineers had completed an “aircraft readiness review” for the weekend launch and found that the new Shepherd rocket and capsule were in perfect condition. At 8 a.m. CT (13:00 UTC) any early morning storms are expected to pass before the expected lifting time.
Bezos and three other passengers – his brother Mark, airline pioneer Wally Funk and Oliver Damon, a payment customer from the Netherlands – received about 14 hours of training over two days this weekend. Their flight will be completely autonomous. The capsule will detach from the rocket after launch, and there will be about three minutes of weight loss before passengers return to their seats to return to Earth. Upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, passengers will experience 5GS because gravity drives itself into the return vehicle.
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said the particular capsule and rocket had previously produced two aircraft. Although Blue Origin had a few former astronauts, the company decided to fly its first aircraft with Bezos, his invited guests and a customer. “We see no value in doing things gradually in that approach, very honestly,” Smith said.
An unnamed bidder paid $ 28 million for a seat on the plane, but later withdrew due to planning conflicts, Blue Origin said. The company turned a runner-up page during the auction of Dutch hedge fund manager Jose Damon. He paid an unspecified price for the seat to fly his son Oliver.
Smith said 7,500 people from 150 countries participated in the Blue Origin auction for the New Shepherd seat. The company has not disclosed how much it will charge for seats on the new Shepherd, but Blue Origin seems to want to get any price the market can afford, with seats on early flights expected to cost significantly more than $ 1 million. “Early flights go for good prices,” Smith said.
Blue Origin plans to fly two more customer flights in 2021, although the company did not say whether there will be a dozen such trips in 2022 unless there are significant technical issues.
For Tuesday’s flight, the company will provide a webcast, which is expected to start 90 minutes before the expected liftoff time. So Webcast should go live in Texas at 6:30 am local time or 11:30 UTC local time. The webcast will be embedded in this story when a link is published.