Blue Origin is a space exploration company that was set up by Jeff Bezos, the same guy who runs Amazon. Blue Origin, like SpaceX, want to take human beings and cargo into space. However they also realise that it is quite expensive to do this research so they want to sell you and me tickets to go into space so that they can use that money for their research on space exploration.
Hmmm… feel like you’ve heard this before? Yes you have! Elon Musk and SpaceX want to do the same thing. So the difference is in the rockets that are being used. Blue Origin and SpaceX are each developing their own rockets that they want to reuse parts of to bring down the cost of these launches. Then SpaceX wants to take you into space and to Mars. But Blue Origin says that they want to give space tourists a chance to experience weightlessness and give them a taste of being in space, without actually going out into it each time. So they want to take us on a sub-orbital spaceflight. Their rocket, called the New Shepard, is being tested to do this. They are also developing another rocket, the New Glenn, that will take humans and cargo into orbital flight.
Sub-Orbital? What’s that? If you make it into space but then fall back to the earth without completing a path around the earth, you have made a sub-orbital flight.
Why is it called New Shepard? Alan Shepard was the first American astronaut in space. So this rocket is named after him.
When does Jeff Bezos want to take us on a tourist flight into space? He hopes by December 2018.
What will a ticket cost? He isn’t sure yet! It is rumoured that a ticket on Virgin Galactic is $250,000. So… maybe somewhere around that?
What will the trip be like? It will be 11 minutes from start to finish. The rocket will have only tourists. It will be guided and controlled from the ground. Initially, you will feel like you do at the beginning of a roller coaster – when the cart is going up a steep hill? A lot of pressure! And then when you get to space, they will tell you it’s safe to unbuckle so you can float around the cabin and look out of the windows for 3 or 4 minutes before coming back down! This is what they think it will look like…
Who else is developing rockets to take us into space? Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic, a company called Space Adventure, and a handful more.
Watch this space for more on Space Tourism! We will explore Virgin Galactic’s approach next week.