Blue Origin is planning its first manned flight into space on July 20th. Six astronauts can be there, five seats have already been taken. The sixth is now being auctioned. The space company founded by Jeff Bezos announced this on Wednesday.
The flight will take about eleven minutes and should cross the internationally recognized border to space at a height of 100 kilometers (Kármán line). The phase of weightlessness should be several minutes. The six astronauts are in the space capsule RSS First Step Crew Capsule sit by the missile New Shepard will be carried. The capsule is supposed to land gently in the Texan desert by parachute.
New Shepard has already successfully completed 15 unmanned flights over the Kármán Line and back in a row. After the most recent flight in April, Blue Origin has announced that manned flights will be launched soon. “Now is the time for astronauts to climb aboard,” says Blue Origin. “This journey will change the way you look at the world.”
Proceeds will be donated
From now until May 19, Blue Origin will accept blind bids online. The highest bid up to that point will be published on May 19th. From then on there will be further increases in public. The finale will be a live auction on June 12th. The entire amount of the highest bid will be donated to that of Blue Origin Club for Future donated. This organization wants to inspire young generations for STEM careers (mathematics, IT, natural sciences, technology). The next generation of researchers should design future life in space.
On the Auction website Blue Origin explains extensive but comprehensible conditions of participation: Anyone who wants to fly into space with Blue Origin must be of legal age, not be on various wanted or sanction lists, and be able to legally travel to the starting point in Texas. The COVID19 pandemic may represent an additional hurdle here. You also have to accept a confidentiality agreement and a liability waiver.
The conditions of participation
A height between 152 cm and 193 cm is required for the flight with a body weight of at least 50 kg but no more than 101 kg. Sportiness is required: the stairs of the starting tower, which correspond to about seven floors, have to be covered in a maximum of 90 seconds. You have to withstand 3 g for two minutes, 5.5 g for a few seconds. Fear of heights would be just as impractical as claustrophobia. In addition, the bladder has to withstand being strapped in the seat for up to 90 minutes.
Knowledge of English and hearing must be sufficient to understand instructions received by radio, even if the ambient noise reaches 100 decibels. In addition, you shouldn’t be blind because you have to be able to recognize and interpret warning lights. The one-piece suit must be put on by yourself, and the agile step over uneven terrain must not be a challenge.
Glasses and contact lenses are allowed. The planned start date on July 20th is not guaranteed. A start is agreed within six months after the end of the auction, i.e. in Advent at the latest.
60 years after Alan Shepard
Blue Origin did not choose the start date for the auction on Wednesday by chance: The New Shepard rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut in space. Its premiere flight celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on May 5th.
Shepard was the second person in space on May 5, 1961. The month before, Yuri Gagarin was the first person to have been in space. The cosmonaut even managed to circumnavigate the earth completely. Blue Origin is not planning that with New Shepard.