Jeff Bezos goes to space. Day one: countdown

Yet something important is happening here, and it all revolves around Bezos. To me, its self-directed inclusion on the passenger manifesto of New Shepard’s first human flight is a little bonkers, and it demands our attention. He’s not only the richest human in the world, but probably one of the smartest. Whether or not you approve of his business practices, he has built a dominant and innovative business that has changed many lives, and he has seen opportunities where others haven’t. Yes, he had been thrilled with space travel since he was a teenager, but as an adult his resume demands that we take him seriously when he says he does this for more than uplifting the spirit. human. He is in the lifting human. This is why we cannot take him as an eccentric when he says that our destiny – because Gaia is sick and cannot provide the resources to support us – lies elsewhere in the solar system. When he physically gets on a spaceship, he puts more than money where his mouth is.

That’s why the so-called competition with Branson, who blatantly changed Virgin Galactic’s testing schedule once he learned Bezos would be rising on July 20, is an unwanted distraction for Bezos and his company. Blue Origin should have stayed on the heights. Instead, while publicly congratulating Branson, Blue did some sniping, in particular to claim that as Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity reached an altitude of around 50 miles, which is recognized as space travel by the FAA, it is below “real” space, the 62-mile Kármán line that its crew capsule will cross. “None of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name,” sang Blue Origin in a tweet. (For the record, Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight 60 years ago went 116 miles, almost twice as high as Blue Origin will go.)

In fact, there is something really inspiring happening tomorrow: Wally Funk goes to space. I was read about his life– one of accomplishment, but with a dark shadow. She was the youngest member of the original Mercury 13, a group of women recruited in 1960 to train as astronauts as part of a private program. Funk passed all tests, in some cases surpassing the performance of male Mercury 7 astronauts. But when the time came to enter the program at NASA, the government simply shut it down. The House held a hearing and perhaps the most convincing witness against the inclusion of women was John Glenn, who testified: “The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order. It can be undesirable. “

Funk never got over rejection. By the time NASA accepted female astronauts, the qualifications had changed, so they had no chance of winning a spot. She has spent her life training pilots and investigating aviation disasters for the National Transportation Safety Board. But the hole in his life was his inability to leave the atmosphere. As time passed, she had placed all her hopes in Branson’s Unity. She was among the first to pledge a $ 200,000 seat on her version of a space flight and has become one of Virgin Galactic’s most avid customers, traveling thousands of miles for the events that la company would organize regularly to assure ticket holders that it still intended to keep its promise. Snatching her away from Branson and including her in New Shepard’s first human robbery was a hit, and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say tomorrow after fulfilling her lifelong obsession.

On the other hand, if there was a Kármán-inspired line, selecting Oliver Daemen as the first paying customer wouldn’t be enough. Funk had to wait 60 years for his flight, but Daemen, 18, was fortunate enough to have a father who runs a hedge funds, who offered a few million dollars in an auction for the open seat. (Blue Origin sends the money to space-related nonprofits.) We don’t know how much is, but the original winner $ 28 million The offer came from an unknown attendee who mysteriously backed down a few days before the flight, citing a scheduling conflict. (Are we really to believe someone committed $ 28million to go into space without checking the timeline? More transparency, please. Maybe tell us how much was the under-bid now. Plus, when will Blue Origin announce the official price for them with the other two flights scheduled for this year?) Daemen might be a gorgeous young man, and his dad must be a cool guy to buy at her teenage son a spot on a private company’s first passenger trip to space, but its inclusion invites a discussion of parenting, safety, and privileges that I’m not sure Blue Origin wants to ignite.

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