Bezos’s “Blue Origin” flies into space today: 9 a.m. Eastern U.S. time

July 20, 2021 • 7:20 am
UPDATE: Everything went perfectly during the 10+ minute flight; the booster made a bullseye back to the landing pad, and all the astronauts are fine and excited.
Reader Bat sent this note, which I reproduce in its entirety.  Be sure to watch the launch, set for 9 a.m. Eastern Time, or 8 a.m. Chicago time. (I believe that’s 2 p.m. Greenwich time, though one site said 1 p.m.  Greenwich time. If you’re a Brit, do check.) Bat’s words:

Just a reminder that Jeff Bezos’s “Blue Origin” space launch, designed to reach just beyond the 100km altitude that marks the “edge of space” (62 miles), is planned for this morning.  Liftoff is scheduled for 0900 Eastern U.S. time (0800 Chicago time at the west Texas launch site), with live coverage beginning at 0730 Eastern Time (0630 Chicago time) at the link below.

There will be four people on board: Jeff Bezos, his younger brother, an 82-year-old famous female aviator (Wally Funk), and an 18 year old paying passenger selected in an earlier lottery.

The entire mission will take about 8-10 minutes and is a standard one-stage booster rocket with crew capsule that separates from booster when the booster engines cut out a couple of minutes into the flight. The capsule continues on in a parabolic trajectory to just above the 100km high Karman altitude, giving 4-5 minutes of weightlessness to the crew.  Both vehicles continue trajectories back to Earth with the booster landing upright for re-use and the capsule hitting down on the desert floor close-by under parachutes.  All is done autonomously; there is no pilot.

Be aware that times may change. Bat adds this:

But we have to remember that these are scheduled times for a very complicated process.  Even scheduled airliners run late on occasion. So there is every possibility of a hold in the count or a scrubbed mission. In their April launch which carried out the full mission but sans crew, there were several holds in the countdown.  They do have an escape system for the capsule in case of a booster failure.

Update:  Anne-Marie sent a cartoon that appeared in La Presse, a French-Canadian newspaper this morning. (Serge Chapleau is a famous artist/cartoonist.) Yes, the booster and capsule does look like that. Translation: “Jeff Bezos presenting his souvenir poster of his first space trip.”

33 thoughts on “Bezos’s “Blue Origin” flies into space today: 9 a.m. Eastern U.S. time

  1. It is all being covered on TeeVee as well. Take your pick. Rich tourist in space. The plan is to send six paying customers per trip. That’s 6 times $250,000.

  2. This a somewhat dangerous undertaking. I am bothered about the light banter taking place at t minus 10 or so minutes by the blue origin hosts

    1. I watched on CNN – Anderson Cooper and a couple of others. Much better coverage without all the talk.

    2. I didn’t watch all of it, but, from the last 20 minutes or so, it seems that only one was annoyingly bloviating. The other was quite level-headed.

  3. So it’s all over now. The total trip up and back was 11 minutes. The booster was back on the ground in 7 minutes. Looked like the altitude was around 350,000 feet.

    1. It’s always nice to know what entertainments the Tom Buchanans of the world are up to when not attending the lavish parties thrown across the bay in West Egg.

  4. Whew! Well done blue origins team! Looking forward to pictures of dark sky and earth curvature which i hope they saw and memorialized while they were floating around.

  5. Why am I underwhelmed? Did not Joe walker reach the 100 km with the X-15 in 1963? (as mentioned in a recent post here), 58 years ago. Not to mention Yuri Gagarin in a Vostok orbiting the Earth in 1961 or Alan Shepard Jr short dip into space in a Mercury a month later, both more than 60 years ago.
    I’d give the honour of the first ‘manned’ space flight to the hapless doggy ‘Laika’, who died during return.

    1. It was underwhelming though a good thing overall. I am much more interested in SpaceX launching its new Starship into a semi-orbital flight in a month or two. Yesterday, they performed the first static fire of its booster. It will be the first fully reusable rocket to reach orbit and also the largest. Blue Origin has their own big rocket but it’s way behind schedule.

    2. I’m whelmed with the technical achievements – auto piloted without a hitch, upright landing by the booster, safe dry land “splashdown” by the crew capsule. These are all great things to see. The upright booster landing (and presumed reuse) especially – that wasn’t possible even just ten years ago.

      The passengers are only interesting insofar as I could see safe space access technology advancing much more rapidly (and the cost to move material into orbit going down) if there’s a consumer demand for it. In that respect, it’s probably good for space exploration in the long run to have rich tourists being willing to pay for more, cheaper, and safer flights.

      1. safe dry land “splashdown” by the crew capsule.

        I think the term you’re looking for is “soft landing”, as opposed to the less desirable “hard landing.

      2. The upright booster landing is indeed the most ‘whelming’ part, but IIRC Space-ex did that a year or two ago (please correct me if I’m wrong).
        Soft landings we saw with the Space Shuttle (albeit not always successful, eish!).

        1. IIRC Space-ex did that a year or two ago

          I believe you are right. But I am not so jaded as to be bored with the concept simply because it’s been done once or twice. Do it a hundred times a year with 10 boosters continuously recycled, then we’ll have moved from ‘modern marvel’ to ‘business as usual.’ And frankly, that consistency and tempo of reusable human space lift would be just as whelming, albeit for different reasons. 🙂

          1. Same here. It might be a generational thing. It doesn’t seem to interest my teenage kids all that much but I still watch every launch I can.

        2. Yes, SpaceX 1st successfully landed their Falcon 9 booster in 2015. To date they’ve made something on the order of 90 F9 booster landings. On most missions the booster lands, as mission parameters permit either on land near the launch site or on a landing barge at sea. Currently 1 or 2 individual F9 boosters have flown 10 missions, and counting. SpaceX can and has flown missions that don’t allow for landing of the booster, i.e. payload mass and or the required orbit don’t allow fuel for landing.

          On an average mission the F9 booster reaches about twice the altitude of Blue Origin’s New Shepard and reaches about twice the speed during the launch phase, while pushing a 2nd stage that is capable of then putting 15,600 kg into LEO or 5,500 kg into GEO. The F9’s reentry speed is also much higher.

          I think it is very good for other companies to develop launch capabilities and provide some competition, and it’s great that things went so well today for Blue Origin. But they are way behind in the space launch market. And they’ve been at it longer than SpaceX has. Launching tons into orbit is an order of magnitude (at least) more difficult than suborbital flight.

        3. One difference between SpaceX’s booster landings and Blue Origin’s is that the latter can actually hover due to having fine throttle control. SpaceX boosters must time everything precisely so that it reaches close to zero velocity at zero altitude.

  6. On NPR this morning I repeatedly heard “Billionaire Jeff Bezos” in reporting the event. I subjectively perceive that the media would view the event as (even) more underwhelming were “Billionaire” not employed.

    1. Mentioning “billionaire” is important to NPR’s message about money that could be spent better here on Earth. IMHO, it’s an argument worth having if the arguers are serious and informed but, sadly, they usually aren’t.

  7. The only exciting part of this story is that Wally Funk finally for her flight. She’s waited far too long for this and while I hate Jefe Bozo with the fire or a thousand suns, I’m thrilled for her. Funk truly is a kick-ass human being!

    1. Why do you hate Mr Bezos? (A genuine question, I know too little about him to love or hate him, I only know he created Amazon, the services of which I occasionally use).

        1. And he pays pretty much zero taxes, and this space flight of his was subsidized by the government, so our taxes paid for the majority of this cost as well. Yeah, Amazon is convenient and all, but Bezos is a financial leech.

  8. The idea is perfectly clear. Everyone, and that means you — yes, you who reads this — must make sacrifices, cut back on travelling, buying plastic straws and whatever you enjoy. We all must do our part to save the planet. Wait, that was last week. This week, we’re excited for a billionaire to taxi to high altitudes we declared as “space”.

    I find the concept of billionaire alone obscene. That they are seen as celebrities is perhaps telling us that it’s a good thing that organised humankind comes to an end fairly soon (I start to be quite convinced that people born this decade are probably the last).

    The only sceaming injustice is that those same billionaires show us here, almost as to mock us, that they will get away, even into space, while people who are least excited about their short trip will pay for the excesses that made these billionaires possible. It’s like a custard-pie battle in a famine.

  9. ‘Bread and Circuses’….this arsehole can’t allow his workers to have humane working conditions as it jeopardizes his profit margins and chances for junkets like this one…give him a one way ticket.

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