Bezos takes off at Blue Origin’s first manned launch: how to watch live

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It goes away! The New Shepard rocket takes off for the NS-15 mission.

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Blue origin

It’s been almost a week Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson Earned His Astronaut Wings and another extremely rich human being is preparing to do the same. on July 20, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will strap on to a rocket built by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin, and launch into space. Next to him will be his brother Mark and – should the flight succeed – the oldest astronaut ever, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and youngest astronaut ever, 18-year-old Oliver Daeman.

The mission is the culmination of nearly two decades of rocket science. Blue Origin officially appeared in 2015 after more than a decade of silence, unveiling its reusable rocket, New Shepard, to the world. Fifteen test flights later, New Shepard is ready to take humans to the cosmic shoreline, have them stare into infinity, and return them safely to Earth. And Bezos is first in line to test the experience.

On July 12, the company overcame one of the last hurdles and received the official blessing of the US Federal Aviation Administration to transport passengers to space. So this is happening — and you can follow.

Here’s when and how to watch Blue Origin’s historic first crewed launch.


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🚀How To Watch Jeff Bezos Launch On Blue Origin’s New Shepard

The flight is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, and Blue Origin’s coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. PT (7:30 a.m. ET). For those who need a little extra sleep on the US West Coast, the launch is aimed at targeted 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. ET).

You can watch live on BlueOrigin.com, but if there’s a livestream link, we’ve got it here for you. CNET Highlights, on YouTube, will also feature the latest and greatest from the West Texas desert where the launch will take place.

What about other time zones around the world? Here’s when you can make it to launch:

  • Rio de Janeiro: 10 hours
  • London: 2:00 p.m.
  • Johannesburg: 3 p.m.
  • Moscow: 4 p.m.
  • Dubai: 5 p.m.
  • New Delhi: 6:30 pm
  • Beijing: 9 o’clock in the evening
  • Tokyo: 10 p.m.
  • Sydney: 11:00 p.m.

The new Shepard missile

Named after the first American astronaut to go into space, Alan Shepard, Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket has completed 15 flights so far. This, the 16th mission, is known as NS16.

The rocket has gone through two major iterations since it first flew on April 29, 2015, but it will be New Shepard 4 that flies Bezos to the brink of infinity.

Bezos and crew members including Funk, who passed astronaut tests in the early 1960s, will be in a crew pod, shaped like a gumdrop, for their ascent into space. The pressurized crew pod has the “largest windows in space,” according to Blue Origin, and has room for six astronauts. No pilots are needed – all the flying work is done by on-board computers.

In an emergency, the crew pod can break free from the booster rocket at any time, deploy parachutes and glide safely back to Earth. I hope such a separation is not necessary.

‘Battle’ of the Billionaires

Richard Branson, the 70-year-old billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, launched beyond the stratosphere in VSS Unity, Galactic’s spacecraftvliegtuig on July 11. The headlines said it all: “Branson beats Jeff Bezos into space,” read one in The New York Times.

Both Branson and Bezos are selling the dream of spaceflight to private individuals, in an effort to open up a space tourism industry that will allow “everyone” to make short suborbital journeys. However, the trips are not cheap. Virgin Galactic spaceplane tickets cost $250,000 before sales were halted after a crash in 2014. According to The New York Times, when sales reopened, they can be more expensive. It’s not clear how much a ticket aboard the Blue Origin rocket will cost at this point, but one seat was sold at auction for $28 million.

The tagline for many space tourism missions seems to be about opening up access to space for everyone, but the six- and seven-figure ticket prices aren’t exactly in the realm of your everyday space fan. It remains to be seen how these prices will fluctuate.

While a small battle and space tourism are central to the coverage of the Branson and Bezos flights, there are also opportunities for science. Both companies will offer scientists the ability to take payloads on flights, with Blue Origin noting that astronauts on board tend to experiment in microgravity in real time. New experiment techniques could be developed in suborbital space before being sent to the International Space Station for lengthy testing.

But before we even get there, we may need to answer a more pressing question. It’s one that Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have had to grapple with this week: where does space begin?

Space or the edge of space?

There’s been a bit of bickering about where exactly the space begins. That’s why you’ve probably heard Branson’s flight described as reaching “space” or the “edge of space” almost interchangeably — where Earth’s atmosphere “ends” and space begins isn’t perfectly defined.

The US Federal Aviation Administration gives astronaut wings to anyone flying more than 50 miles (about 80 kilometers). Some scientists have claimed this is reasonable redelijk based on the distance at which satellites can orbit the earth, and NASA uses a similar number to determine where space starts for manned missions. Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight saw him reach an altitude of about 53 miles, so he’s getting his wings.

But that’s not necessarily where “space” begins, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The Astronautic Records Commission of the FAI, which “assess and manages manned space record activities,” uses something known as the Kármán line to determine where space begins.

That “line” is about 100 kilometers higher. But the FAI’s description is not legally binding, and there are claims that space should start even further away – at 1.5 million kilometers! With the FAA and NASA saying one thing and the FAI saying another… it’s all getting a little messy.

The discrepancy means that Branson’s flight into space is seen by some as an asterisk. Blue Origin took a thinly veiled swipe at the Galactic flight on Twitter. “New Shepard is designed to fly above the Kármán line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name,” the company tweeted.

What does all this mean? Well, Bezos and his crew are definitely going to “space”, as defined by crossing the Kármán line – and Blue Origin is eager to make a big fuss about that. Does it really matter? No. Is it an extremely spicy and pointless discussion in the context of space tourism? Probably.

As for Blue Origin of Virgin Galactic with space tourism, another company has even more ambitious plans for 2021: Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

SpaceX Factor

That’s right, there’s another insanely rich man who also has space in his sights. The SpaceX head honcho with plans to establish a colony on Mars? Yes, SpaceX has plans to take individuals into the cosmos as well – and far beyond Branson or Bezos will be able to reach with their spacecraft. A lunar mission, scheduled for 2023, will take eight people “further than any man has ever gone” from the earth, make a short loop around our natural satellite before returning.

Another mission, with a much shorter departure date, will last four civilians around the earth in a Crew Dragon spacecraft. There are plans to launch it before the end of 2021 on a multi-day trip along a modified flight path.

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