The apparently problem-free flight of the space company Blue Origins took the crew up to the Karman Line at an altitude of 100 kilometers, which, according to international definition, marks the border to space. After only a few minutes, the space capsule “New Shepard” landed back in the desert, braked by parachutes.
On the ground, the space guests were received by Amazon boss Bezos, among others. The PR-laden flight was broadcast live. It should have started on Tuesday, but was postponed to Wednesday due to strong winds.
The former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, the entrepreneur Glen de Vries and the deputy head of Blue Origin, Audrey Powers, flew with Shatner. It was the second manned flight of the New Shepard capsule. At the premiere in July, Bezos himself was on board with three other astronauts.
Shatner was allowed to enjoy flight
Shatner has been dealing with space for a long time, he said in advance. “Now I’ll take the chance and see it for myself. What a miracle. ”The adventure is“ life changing ”for him. In 1966 Shatner first took on the role of Captain James T. Kirk in the science fiction series “Star Trek”. During his decades of career, the actor commanded the spaceship Enterprise again and again.
In the Blue Origin space capsule, however, he was only allowed to enjoy the flight – it flies largely automatically. After take-off, the spaceship accelerates to more than 3,700 km / h within two minutes. Shortly afterwards, the capsule separates from the reusable rocket. The passengers can then leave their seats and enjoy the view and the weightlessness for a few minutes.
No “endless expanses”
In addition, it does not go through the “infinite expanses” of space and into “foreign galaxies”, but only for around ten minutes to around 100 kilometers above the earth above the western Texas desert. The International Aviation Association (FAI) and many other experts consider 100 kilometers above the earth to be the limit to space, but there are no binding international regulations.
The participation of Captain Kirk as the fourth passenger is seen as a PR coup for Bezos and his company Blue Origin. Unlike Boshuizen and de Vries, Shatner did not pay for his ticket, but was invited as a “guest” by Blue Origin, reported the New York Times, citing the company.
“Space Race” of the billionaires
Bezos has been competing with other billionaires in a “space race” for some time. Shortly before Bezos, Richard Branson, for example, took off into space with the “VSS Unity” of his company Virgin Galactic. But he earned ridicule from Bezos because the capsule only reached a height of 50 miles (approx. 80 kilometers). What is worse for Branson, however, is that the US air traffic control authorities (FAA) imposed a subsequent take-off ban on his space flier because it deviated from the planned flight path.
Tesla founder Elon Musk had more success: In mid-September, his global travel company SpaceX sent a flight into space for the first time exclusively occupied by space tourists. The trip lasted three days.
Lawsuit over order for moon flight
The rivalry also extends to the courtroom: Blue Origin recently sued against the award of the US government contract for a spacecraft to land on the moon to Musk’s company SpaceX. Musk said: “You can’t complain to the moon, no matter how good the lawyers are,” he said at a conference in September.
Preparations for the flight
Shatner and the rest of the crew preparing for their first real space flight.
The billionaires’ space race has met with a lot of criticism, for example because of its environmental impact. Blue Origins was also recently confronted with allegations that they cultivate a grueling and misogynistic corporate culture.