Whatever the explanations, Bezos’ announcement was shocking. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith defended the plan in a preflight briefing, saying that the 2 most up-to-date check flights proved that each one techniques have been prepared, and since the whole lot controlling the spacecraft runs autonomously, there was no want for human observe. “We didn’t see any value, quite honestly, from doing things stepwise,” he stated, skipping straight to the ferocious a part of the corporate’s motto. So there could be no human check flight, however a high-stakes maiden voyage with the boss, his brother, an octogenarian, and a teen.
In the run-up to the flight, the usually press-shy firm out of the blue turned showbiz, releasing shiny movies and pictures of the crew decked out of their vibrant blue jumpsuits. Original plans to accommodate a modest press contingent obtained jettisoned like a booster rocket, as the corporate invited dozens of reporters to its distant location within the West Texas desert, the place Bezos owns over 300,000 acres and a mountain vary.
At 7:25 Central Daylight Time, on the corporate’s launch pad, the passengers climbed 5 flights of steps, scaling the peak of the 160-foot New Shepard reusable rocket, pausing briefly inside an fireproof “astronaut safety shelter,” a tightly enclosed fireproof room that can be utilized within the occasion of an emergency evacuation. Then Bezos led the crew throughout a skybridge—every ringing a silver ceremonial bell as they crossed—to the capsule, which rests on New Shepard like, effectively, a sex toy. At 7:34, they entered the hatch and buckled themselves in. Funk caught a postcard of herself as a Mercury 13 candidate to her window, with plans to shoot an image of it when she reached area. At 7:43, Blue Origin technicians closed the hatch and climbed down from the gantry. It was T-minus 21 minutes.
The two earlier suborbital NASA launches—60 years in the past—concerned loads of checking gauges and flipping switches. Bezos and his crew didn’t have any of that to fret about: New Shepard is totally AI-driven. They might watch the countdown from private viewing screens on the perimeters of the massive home windows designed for a luxurious view of the Earth and area.
There had been some stories of doable rain, however the day was beautiful and clear. The countdown proceeded with solely a slight maintain at quarter-hour; then the depend restarted. The system handed by means of a ultimate two minutes of checks, all performed by an auto sequence, after which a voice from mission management started the countdown: “10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … command engines start, 2 1.”
At 8:12 am, steam poured out of the underside of the booster for a few seconds. “We have liftoff,” stated the voice from the small mission management room on the bottom. Then the rocket jumped like a dart, crusing upwards till all that was left to see was a fuzzy contrail, a donut signifying the non permanent gap within the sky that New Shepard had slipped by means of.
About three minutes later, the capsule, RSS First Step, separated from the rocket and pushed previous the Earth’s environment. This was it: The crew was weightless. They have been area vacationers. While the dwell feed didn’t give the 1000’s of on-line viewers real-time video, you possibly can make out a number of the audio that captured the joyous exclamations because the crew unbuckled and floated.
“Look out the window!”
The New Shepard rocket had already begun its descent to Earth when the capsule gently started the journey dwelling. A sonic increase introduced the rocket’s return, and in a burst of fireside it landed safely on its pad. Not lengthy after, three crimson, white, and blue parachutes deployed above the capsule. “You have a very happy crew up here, I want you to know,” Bezos instructed the management room.