Leading American Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin launched its fourth successful space tourism mission, thus achieving one more significant milestone in its supersonic private space tourism objectives.
On Thursday morning, just after sunrise, five private passengers boarded the Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule for their exciting space journey from its West Texas launch facilities.
The capsule, boosted by a 60-foot-tall rocket, crossed the Kármán Line at 100 kilometers from Earth with a speed of more than three times the speed of sound, or more than 2,000 miles per hour.
After crossing the Kármán line, the capsule remained in space for a few moments before rapidly diving back into the Earth’s atmosphere and landing in the Texas desert.
The passengers cheered as the capsule touched down on Earth. They exited the capsule smiling and waving a few moments later. They described their space journey as exciting and incredible.
“It was intense, and I did get a little bit of a feeling of vertigo,” recounted Lai, one of the six passengers. “I did feel a little nauseous, for sure,” he added.
“Unreal, just unreal, I can’t put it into words. It was an out-of-body experience,” said another passenger adding that it was “breathtaking.”
Another passenger named Nield called it “the thrill of a lifetime,” adding that “pictures don’t do it justice.”
Kármán Line is an imaginary line higher over 100 kilometers or 62 miles from Earth. It is widely accepted as the altitude at which outer space begins.
Interestingly, the company did not disclose the amount paid by the private passengers even though it had reportedly auctioned off a ticket for USD 28 million earlier.
What is Space Tourism?
Space tourism is the tour of space by private individuals for fun and leisure.
With the entry of private space tourism companies like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Space-X, and Virgin Galactic, any private individual can now enjoy space travel that only hardened astronauts and cosmonauts with decades of training could visit before.
The year 2021 can be said to be the year of the beginning of space tourism because it was the year when companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic tested their first flights to space. It is expected that the space tourism business will boom in the coming few years.
According to CNN, Blue Origin’s goal is “to make these suborbital spaceflights a mainstay of pop culture, giving a 10-minute supersonic joyride to anyone else who can afford it”.
While space tourism is expected to boost business and economic activities, it has been criticized for not being egalitarian and environment-friendly, at least in the short run.
The safety of space tourists is another concern. As space tourism is still at its nascent stage, experts believe that going beyond the Kerman line may expose human beings to harmful radiation from the sun that may cause serious health ailments. Some may even get heart and panic attacks sitting in a capsule traveling at a supersonic speed.