Blue Origin video shows first space tourism launch of 2022
Blue Origin has shared a video showing highlights from its first space tourism mission of 2022.
The six passengers — a mix of business people and specialists in the space industry — took their seats inside a capsule atop Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket at the company’s facility in West Texas on Thursday, March 31.
The flight marked the company’s fourth crewed mission since Blue Origin boss and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took the first passenger flight in July last year.
The single-stage rocket lifted off at just before 9 a.m. local time, blasting the tourists to about four miles above the Kármán line, the point 62 miles above Earth that’s generally regarded as the start of space.
During the ascent, the rocket reached a top speed of 2,236 mph, while the capsule and its passengers reached an altitude of 351,276 feet, or just over 66 miles.
Around three minutes into the 10-minute experience, the passengers were able to leave their seats and float around inside the capsule during a short period of weightlessness. Stunning views of Earth were also part of the package. After climbing back into their seats, the passengers then experienced a parachute-assisted descent before landing close to the launch site.
“It was awesome, amazing,” said Dr. George Nield shortly after returning to terra firma. “As soon as we got above 100,000 feet and we saw the sky getting darker, and when it turned to pitch black, it was just gorgeous; pictures don’t do it justice.”
As well as being the first crewed flight of this year, Blue Origin’s mission was also the first not to include an invited celebrity among its passenger list. Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson was supposed to be on board but pulled out when Blue Origin changed the launch date due to poor weather conditions at the launch site.
The second Blue Origin mission saw Star Trek legend William Shatner take the once-in-a-lifetime ride to the edge of space, while the third flight carried Good Morning America co-host and former pro football player Michael Strahan.
It’s not known how much the Blue Origin passengers paid for the privilege of traveling beyond the Kármán line, though if it’s close to what rival space tourism service Virgin Galactic is charging for a similar experience, then a seat will have cost around $450,000.
But that’s peanuts compared to what three tourists have paid for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station in the coming days.