Branson Vs. Bezos: Why The Billionaires’ Trips To The Edge Of Space Could Not Be More Different

Who will be the first billionaire from space? It’s the Virgin Galactic CEO who looks poised for space as the first billionaire. He’ll be taking off on Sunday, 7/11/2021 as “Astronaut001”. That’s just nine days ahead of the Blue Origin and Amazon founders.

They will be riding in embryonic space tourism vehicles. However, delays have made it difficult for them to get there.

However, we know that the two space travel vehicles–and their space journeys–are not much different.

Both offer supersonic speeds and a few minutes without any weight in space. They also provide a view of Earth’s curvature against the blackness and launch in the American Southwest.

This is everything you need about Branson’s and Bezos’s upcoming space missions.

Virgin Galactic plans to send eight people, including two pilots, in a supersonic jet that launches to the edge.

It begins with VMS Eve’s piloted mothership taking off from the runway. This mothership carries VSS Unity’s supersonic jet.

VSS Unity and VMS Eve separate at 52,000ft. Eve then returns to the runway. VSS Unity then ignites its hybrid rocket motor and accelerates for around a minute to Mach 3 before reaching space at 300,000.feet just a few moments later.

The crew can experience some unbuckled weightlessness for a few seconds and then see the curvature of Earth’s surface from space.

VSS Unity finishes its “space tourism” duties and rotates its wings. It then tails, booms upwards, and re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. After landing, VSS Unity performs an aerodynamically controlled landing.

Virgin Galactic’s experience is expected to last for 2.5 hours. It will be pretty different from Blue Origin’s expertise. But it will still “only” travel approximately 50 miles/80km, as that is how the FAA (and the U.S. military) define space.

The speed of Mach 3 was reached on the May 22, 2021 test flight. It arrived at space at 55.5 miles above sea level.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard Suborbital System is more traditional. It allows vertical take-offs by a 60ft—rocket launchpad.

Blue Origin’s New Shepherd rocket reusable rocket launches. It then continues to space. After seven minutes, it returns to the launchpad.

The crew capsule will reach the Karman Line (62 miles/100 km up), which is slightly higher than the Virgin Galactic experience. It is the Federation Aeronautique Internationale’s definition of the edge of space.

Blue Origin will likely use the publicity to emphasize a height difference between these two space tourism trips. Both are incredible!

The capsule will return to Earth at Mach 5 speeds after being weightless for just a few seconds and seeing Earth from space.

After Alan Shepherd, the historic “first American to space” mission aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft on May 5, 1961.

Blue Origin’s space tourist flight is shortlisted over Shepherd’s because of the large windows inside the capsule. The flight lasts just 11 minutes. It’s a little shorter than Shepherd’s 15 min, 28-second flight to make history.

You can choose to take a long flight in a supersonic aircraft or to see what it’s like to be an astronaut.

What will space tourists of the future do with their time? They’ll want both.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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