Man has long looked at Space as the next frontier but never have we been closer than now. Although several manned space flights have taken astronauts to space and back, it has never been conducive to commercial travel. Over the past couple of years, several companies have invested in commercial space travel including Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Blue Origin.
SpaceX, by billionaire Elon Musk, has positioned itself as an alternative to NASA to launch satellites into outer space. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have positioned themselves as commercial carriers that will allow high paying customers to travel to space. The latest news from Blue Origin’s successful test has prompted this post as space is just on the horizon, literally!
Blue Shepard named after the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, is a vertical take-off vertical landing launch vehicle. At the top of the launch vehicle is the capsule capable of seating 6 people who will take an 11-minute flight into space and return while crossing the Mach 3rd barrier.
Designed to cross the Karman line which is the internationally recognized boundary of space, the booster will separate and send the capsule into a free flight arch in space and then a subsequent gradual descent back to earth. The booster is additionally expected to carry commercial payloads ranging from scientific experimental gear to educational materials. The booster is equipped to perform an unmanned landing so that it can be reused for future launches.
Onboard the capsule, there is room for commercial payloads ranging from mini payloads of up to 1lb to double lockers that can hold payloads of 50 lbs. In a given capsule there can be up to 36 individual lockers. To encourage STEM education, schools can now develop their space programs and generate payloads for less than the price of new football uniforms.
Touchdown of the crew capsule, completing what looks to be a wholly successful mission. #NewShepard
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) January 14, 2021
On the January 14th, Blue Origin announced their successful completion of the 14th test flight of the Shephard with a test mannequin in the standard 6 seater configuration. Two weeks from now they are scheduled for another test flight, following which there will be a first crewed flight in 6 weeks. The success so far, coupled with the expected success of the next 2 missions puts Blue Origin in a place to start its commercial operations starting in April 2021. Although the price of these space tours hasn’t been made public they are expected to cater to millionaires at first which will fund additional research and help bring down the cost for future missions that will be open to the general public.
It is rumored that Virgin Galactic will price their space missions at $250,000 a seat. How much would you pay for a seat to be one of the first few people in space?
Fount of wisdom, insufferable know it all, make it go away are just some of the phrases used to define Melwyn. When he is not at his Consulting job, he spends his time reading about technology and current affairs.