Jeff Bezos hits space aboard the Blue Origin rocket


Whatever the reasons, Bezos’ announcement was surprising. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith defended the plan during a pre-flight briefing, saying the last two test flights have proven all systems are ready, and since everything that controls the spacecraft is working autonomously, there was no need for human practice. “We didn’t see any value, quite frankly, in doing things in stages,” he said, jumping directly to the fierce part of the company’s motto. So there wouldn’t be a human test flight, but a high-stakes maiden voyage with the boss, his brother, an octogenarian and a teenager.

As the flight approached, the normally shy company suddenly transformed into a showbiz, posting glossy videos and photos of the crew dressed in their bright blue overalls. Initial plans to accommodate a modest press contingent were dropped as a booster rocket, as the company invited dozens of reporters to its remote location in the West Texas desert, where Bezos has more than 300 000 acres and a mountain range.

At 7:25 a.m. Central Daylight Time, on the company’s launch pad, passengers climbed five flights of stairs, scaling the height of the 160-foot New Shepard reusable rocket, stopping briefly inside fire-resistant “astronaut safety shelter” means a hermetically sealed fire-resistant shelter. room that can be used in the event of an emergency evacuation. Then Bezos led the crew across an airlift – each ringing a ceremonial silver bell as they crossed – to the capsule, which rests on New Shepard as, well, a sex toy. At 7:34 am, they entered the hatch and buckled up. Funk has stuck a postcard of herself as a candidate for Mercury 13 on her window, intending to take a photo of her when she reaches space. At 7.43 am, Blue Origin technicians closed the hatch and got out of the gantry. It was T minus 21 minutes.

NASA’s two previous suborbital launches 60 years ago involved extensive gauge checks and switch toggles. Bezos and his team didn’t have to worry about all of this: New Shepard is all driven by AI. They could watch the countdown from personal viewing screens on the sides of large windows designed for luxurious views of Earth and space.

There had been a few possible reports of rain, but the day was beautiful and clear. The countdown went off with only a slight wait at 15 minutes; then the count started again. The system underwent the last two minutes of checks, all performed by an automatic sequence, then a voice from mission control started the countdown: “10, 9, 8, 7, 6… the control motors start, 2 1 “.

At 0812, steam escaped from the bottom of the booster for a few seconds. “We have take off,” said the voice of the small mission control room on the base. Then the rocket leaped like a dart, hovering upward until only a fuzzy trail remained, a donut signifying the temporary hole in the sky that New Shepard had slipped through.

About three minutes later, the RSS First Step capsule separated from the rocket and passed Earth’s atmosphere. That was it: the crew was weightless. They were space travelers. While the live stream didn’t give real-time video to the thousands of viewers online, you could make out some of the audio that captured the cheerful exclamations as the crew pulled away and floated away.

“Holy cow! “

“Good God!”

“Look through the window!”

“Whooooooon!”

The New Shepard rocket had already begun its descent to Earth when the capsule slowly began its return journey. A sonic boom announced the return of the rocket, and in a flurry of fire it landed safely on its cushion. Shortly after, three red, white and blue parachutes deployed over the capsule. “You have a very happy crew here, I want you to know that,” Bezos told the control room.



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