"This is the best day of my life!" When rushing into space, Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man sitting in front of the "big floating window" of the capsule, said loudly. At 21:12 on July 20, Beijing time, the New Shepard rocket of Blue Origin carried by Bezos was launched from Blue Origin Launch Site 1 near Van Horn, West Texas, and successfully went into space. It is understood that compared with Richard Branson who flew into space nine days ago, Bezos seems to be better at distance, with a gap of about 14 kilometers.
The space trip lasted about 10 minutes. About 3 minutes after the lift off, 4 passengers began to experience weightlessness. After 4 minutes and 28 seconds, Bezos and his team reached the highest point of the journey - the edge of space 100 kilometers from the ground. Through the rebroadcast pictures, the audience can also vaguely see the beautiful space scenery outside the window of the New Shepard, and can occasionally hear the crew members in the space capsule murmur at the sight. Eight minutes after launch, the capsule re entered the Earth's atmosphere and landed on the ground at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour.
At 21:22 Beijing time, Bezos and three teammates returned to the ground smoothly. After landing, Bezos, who was sitting by the window of the capsule, still danced excitedly to the staff outside the window. At the moment of opening the hatch door, Bezos rushed out first and gave high fives and hugs to the staff who served him. Later, his brother Mark Bezos, the only female player Wally Funk and 18 year old Oliver Daemen also came out.
It is understood that this flight also set the record of the oldest and youngest astronaut in human history. In addition to Bezos, there are Bezos' brother Mark Bezos, the 82 year old aerospace legend Wally Fink, and the 18 year old high school graduate Oliver Dyman.
Speaking of Mark Bezos, he is the youngest of Bezos brothers and sisters. After graduating from Texas Christian University, he went to New York and worked in several well-known advertising companies, such as DDB. In 1999, Mark founded a marketing company and became a director of the Bezos Family Foundation. In 2006, he joined Robin Hood, a non-profit organization for poverty alleviation in New York. In addition, Mark Bezos is a volunteer firefighter. When asked why he took his brother to space this time, Jeff Bezos said: "Mark is my closest brother and best friend. It is of great significance to me to complete the space trip I have always dreamed of with him."
In addition to the Bezos brothers, there is also a legendary woman named Wally Fink among the members of the space tour. This old man, who is over 80 years old, has fulfilled her lifelong dream in her old age. In Bezos's words, Wally Fink is a very great woman: "In my opinion, she is so great that she can defeat all male astronauts". The connection between Wally Fink and aviation can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, NASA launched a space flight project - Mercury 13 program, which produced 13 excellent female astronauts. However, due to the lack of support from NASA, the test program was forced to stop. As a member of the Mercury 13 project, Wally Fink finally achieved his wish 60 years later.
Oliver Dyman, only 18 years old, is undoubtedly the luckiest one in the team. After graduating from high school in 2020, he has been full of yearning for space since he was 4 years old, and recently obtained a private aircraft pilot's license. Before starting his college life, Dayman experienced the coolest "graduation trip" ever. Blue Origin said that on June 12, US time, Blue Origin ended the online auction of the first seat of the New Shepard, and an anonymous person won the opportunity to explore space together with Bezos for $28 million. However, due to the conflicting itinerary, the anonymous person was unable to make the trip, and the 18-year-old Dayman was able to take over. According to Bezos, "Deyman will become the youngest space flier in history, and perhaps he will also become a pusher of human exploration of space in the future."
The "Deer Chasing" Space Rich
"When I was young, I often looked up at the stars and yearned for the mysterious and vast world." When rich people like Bezos, Musk and Branson talk about their space dreams, this is the most commonly heard version. In fact, no matter when the rich people's yearning and ambition for space began, it is worth noting that commercial space tourism is gradually becoming a reality, and "interstellar migration" may become the next stop they are chasing.
At present, in the global commercial aerospace industry, the fields of manned spaceflight, deep space exploration and space station are still in the embryonic stage, and the overall scale is small. UBS Group pointed out in a market report released in 2019 that the potential market size of space tourism in the next 10 years is expected to reach 3 billion dollars. Among them, suborbital flight (that is, the space trip of Bezos and Branson) can still be realized at present, while the real space tourism is in orbit. However, due to the immature technology, it is still in the experimental stage.
When it comes to the rich people in space track layout, the first thing you think of should be "Silicon Valley Iron Man" Elon Musk and his SpaceX. It is understood that in 2002, Musk founded Space X to develop reusable rockets to reduce the cost of sending people and payloads into space. In 2008, SpaceX won the commercial orbit transportation service contract from NASA, and delivered the goods to the International Space Station through SpaceX Dragon spacecraft in October 2012, opening a new era of private aerospace. However, Musk's long-term goals and SpaceX's mission go beyond that. Musk believed that 'the future of mankind depends on whether we can settle on Mars'. He said in 2020 that he hoped to build a city on Mars that can accommodate one million people by 2050, and SpaceX would be able to provide 1000 spaceships to send people to Mars.
In addition to Musk, Bezos also targeted "interstellar migration". He once said: "If we can shuttle and settle in the solar system, there will be trillions of people throughout the solar system, which means that we will have 1000 Mozarts and 1000 Einstein. This will be an incredible civilization". In 2000, Bezos established Blue Origin, which has been committed to reducing the cost of space travel for many years. At present, Blue Origin has achieved the goal of sending ordinary people to the edge of space through the new Shepard suborbital rocket. Next, I believe Bezos will focus on "interstellar migration". Bezos once said that the earth is facing more and more loss problems, and people need new habitats. The reusable rockets we have developed will help people travel between the earth and space, and live and work comfortably in space. In addition, Blue Origin once announced that it would build a "floating space station" on the moon in 2024 that could accommodate trillions of people.
Compared with Musk and Bezos, who are running for "interstellar migration", Branson pays more attention to the more easily realized private "sub orbital tourism". It is reported that the company has sold 600 air tickets, and the price of each ticket is between 200000 and 250000 dollars. Its first target customers are the millionaires who have taken off with millions of dollars. Virgin Galactic also mentioned in its prospectus that more than 90% of ticket holders' personal net assets exceeded US $1 million, and about 70% of ticket holders' personal net assets were less than US $20 million. In order to better promote the "space tourism industry", Virgin Galactic does not choose to launch rockets directly like the other two. Instead, it chooses to send its spacecraft to a height of 50000 feet (about 15240 meters) through a spacious twin fuselage jet called "Knight in White II". When the spaceship reaches its final height, passengers will be able to leave their seats and experience weightlessness while watching the beautiful space outside the window.
Nowadays, private companies have emerged in large numbers in the space market. With the continuous improvement of infrastructure and space technology, the prospect of commercial space tourism, even interstellar migration, is promising.
Wen | Deng Yunxi
Editor | Zhao Xiaochun
Figure | Blue Origin, SPAC.com, Unsplash