Jeff Bezos, the multibillionaire founder and CEO of Amazon, will soon fly into space aboard a spacecraft built by his company Blue Origin. But when is the launch and where will it take place?
Blue Origin’s space vehicle, known as New Shepard, will lift off from “Launch Site One,” which is located in a secluded desert area near the small town of Van Horn, west Texas—around 120 miles southeast of El Paso.
The launch is scheduled for July 20, 2021—the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
New Shepard is a fully reusable launch vehicle that takes off and lands vertically. It consists of two main parts—a pressurized crew capsule and booster rocket. The vehicle is controlled entirely by on-board computers without the need for ground control or a human pilot.
After launching, New Shepard will ascend to an altitude of around 62 miles—a boundary known as the Kármán line. This line is widely recognized as the altitude where space begins.
The crew module will separate from the rocket close to peak altitude, landing back on Earth with the help of parachutes. The rocket, meanwhile, will descend before restarting its main engines close to the ground in order to perform a controlled vertical landing. In total, the mission is expected to last around 10 minutes.
The Amazon founder will be joined on the flight by his brother Mark Bezos, the winner of an auction being held for one of the seats and 82-year-old female aerospace pioneer Wally Funk.
In the same video, his brother said: “I wasn’t even expecting him to say that he was going to be on the first flight. What a remarkable opportunity, not only to have this adventure but to do it with my best friend.”
Blue Origin announced on Thursday that Funk would be one of the passengers on the flight.
Funk was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program—a privately-funded project that tested female pilots for astronaut fitness in the early 1960s.
Thirteen women, including Funk, successfully underwent the same physiological and psychological screening tests as the male astronauts that had been selected for NASA’s Project Mercury. However, the women—who later came to be known as the Mercury 13—never flew into space.
The Blue Origin flight will finally provide Funk with the opportunity to fly into space. In fact, at the age of 82, she will become the oldest person to fly into space.
Funk’s career as an aviator was notable for the firsts she achieved. For example, she was the first female inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration and the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.
She was also the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma—a U.S. Army post.