We have to say that 100 km above the Earth isn’t exactly what you find on vacation brochures and going at Mach 3 beyond the edge of space doesn’t count amongst a resort’s activities. Yet, there is a market for suborbital tourism and there is a company steadily building a path towards suborbital flying. Indeed, suborbital tourism is predicted to start in 2018 and anyone with enough money can purchase a ticket for the ultimate experience. The chance to reserve a seat for future orbital missions will have them flocking to Blue Origin. Do you know who is behind Blue Origin? Who is leading the way in the world of suborbital flying?
Blue Origin leading the way as Branson steps aside
Blue Origin is founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and has been testing flights since 2015. The company has conducted five successful test flights and even has its own test site. The main space vessel is know as New Shepard: it consists of a capsule with room for six people to sit before floating around when they hit zero gravity. The views from the space vessel will be breath-taking although many might be concerned that there is no pilot or crew.
Space tourists will be assisted from the ground, trained prior to take-off and guided throughout the mission. They will feel the power of the booster’s vertical takeoff and when it disconnects the vertical landing system means that it will remain intact ready to be reused again and again and again. The main capsule is also reusable with parachutes bringing the vessel and suborbital tourists back down to earth – this is a game changer for suborbital tourism.
If at first you don’t succeed….
This is not the first attempt at suborbital flying: Virgin Galactic grabbed the headlines as Richard Branson set himself the same goal as Blue Origin, sending tourists out of the Earth’s atmosphere for the ultimate space flight. While the Virgin project has disappeared from the news for now, after courting the press, Blue Origin has been quietly working on its reusable vessels and technology since 2000.
Quite how Jeff Bezos managed to keep his pet project under wraps for so long is unbelievable but it was only in 2015 that the name of the company started swirling around the internet and leading the way in the world of suborbital tourism. Initially the company’s main goal was to establish an enduring human presence in space and its initial projects involved the development of propulsion systems. Steadily, it also developed a spacecraft that could go beyond the Earth without a crew – effectively controlled from Earth. The company, loyal to its motto, is going step by step towards suborbital tourism, taking no chances and investing heavily in technology and safety. Such is the company’s dedication to the cause that the first test of New Shepard with humans on-board is not scheduled until early 2018.
Its all about the future
Jeff Bezos sees suborbital tourism as a stepping stone towards an array of other goals which include: ensuring the presence of fully reusable technology within the aerospace industry while maintaining a constant and safe presence of humans suborbiting the earth. Eventually the company will move towards orbit flights all the while selling suborbital tickets at affordable prices and using each flight to collect data from space.
There have been false dawns before, projects have crashed and burned, but all of the big names in aerospace acknowledge the need for fully reusable technology as well as an enduring presence for humans out of Earth’s atmosphere. Jeff Bezos is probably the first billionaire to invest a large chunk of his personal wealth gathering assets for this greatest of endeavors – an endeavor that doesn’t guarantee a return on investment within a fixed time frame, if ever. After all Blue Origin originally thought suborbital tourism was achievable by 2011 but here we stand in 2017. Jeff Bezos still maintains that 2018 is the year when suborbital will hit the masses, astound the critics and give people a taste of life on the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Will this forthcoming breakthrough herald a new space race? Is suborbital flying the biggest breakthrough since man landed on the moon all those years ago?