Jeff Bezos' space company completed its fourth manned spaceflight in less than a year on Thursday, bringing six new space tourists on board.
The New Shepard rocket lifted off at 8:58 a.m. local time from West Texas.
In just ten minutes, a capsule was propelled by the launcher until it reached space, before descending in free fall towards Earth, slowed down by parachutes, then retrorockets.
Up there, the passengers were able to detach themselves from their seats and float for a brief moment in weightlessness.
Congratulations to Marty, Sharon, Marc, Jim, Gary, and George on becoming astronauts.
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) March 31, 2022
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Five customers had paid an undisclosed price for this trip: the businessman Marty Allen, the spouses Sharon and Marc Hagle, respectively at the head of a charitable organization and a real estate company, the professor in business school Jim Kitchen, and George Nield, who runs a company promoting commercial space activities.
" Every week "
"Weightlessness is fun, a new and different experience," said the latter, who is also a former head of the division in charge of commercial space within the American agency of the aviation, FAA.
“But the view!
It's just a wonderful source of inspiration.
It's hard to describe,” he added at a press conference following the flight.
The sixth and last seat was occupied by one of the first twenty employees of Blue Origin, Gary Lai, who notably developed several security systems for the capsule.
“One day, you will see us take off every week!
“, he predicted on behalf of the company, describing an experience “10 times more intense” than what he expected, but which he recommended “to everyone”.
20 people above Karman's line
Pete Davidson, an American comedian and boyfriend of reality TV star Kim Kardashian, was originally slated to fill the latter seat, but the company eventually announced he would not be taking the trip, without giving a reason.
With this flight, Blue Origin has now transported 20 people above the Karman line, which marks the beginning of space according to international convention, at an altitude of 100 km.
The New Shepard rocket is fully reusable, and runs on liquid hydrogen and oxygen, which does not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos himself flew New Shepard's first manned flight in July 2021. Since then, the craft has also carried the actor playing the iconic
series Captain Kirk , William Shatner , or Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of the first American to go into space.
Blue Origin's main competitor for this type of suborbital flight is Virgin Galactic.
In July, the founder of the latter company, the Briton Richard Branson, had also reached space.
But since then, Virgin Galactic has not made a new flight, devoting itself to modifications on its machine.
SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic… How much does a ticket to space cost?
Blue Origin: "Thousands of people" would be ready to fly to space
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