Billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took off from Texas today on a short excursion to the edge of space with his “New Shepard” rocket.
Christoph Seidler, Der Spiegel: “It went up, then the missile cut off and the capsule went off on its own. At the highest point of its flight, it then reached an altitude of about 107 kilometers. Then they could look out of these huge windows, crooked beneath them – The rams could see the blackness of the earth, space. Frankly, I think they could also swim for a short time. Then they had to gear up again, then they took the capsule and went back. And then only falling back Three small pilot parachutes open. They’re taking out three big parachutes. And then all four of them float back on those parachutes very comfortably.”
A few days ago British billionaire Richard Branson made a similar excursion in space.
Christoph Seidler, Der Spiegel: “With the fascinating Virgin Galactic rocket plane Richard Branson has a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s a technically very interesting plane that has to be controlled by two pilots. He tried it, proved it worked Done, okay. He’ll try to get people to do business with you by flying them, maybe even doing one or the other scientific experiment. But in theory the story ends with this.”
Jeff Bezos’s “New Shepard” differs from Branson’s spacecraft in one particular respect.
Christoph Seidler, Der Spiegel: “Everything that was built there was developed with the idea that you could use it for onward trips, in orbit, to the Moon. You wouldn’t do that with the exact system that we saw today. But With motors, with capsules, you can go somewhere. The parts used today can be used to make exactly such a flight, over and over again. What’s more interesting, however, is It’s that the design principle behind it is scalable to larger missiles for other targets as well.”
The recycling of rockets, that is, their multiple uses, makes space travel more economical, at least a little bit. Private space companies have benefited above all from government support.
Christoph Seidler, Der Spiegel: “Elon Musk also made a living by getting state money from the US government for these flights. Richard Branson landed on a spaceport that was built for $200 million in taxes.”
Bezos, Branson or Musk: The billionaires’ journey to the edge of space marks a turning point in space travel. In the not too distant future, private companies will take over the functions of state space organizations, in addition to space travel for wealthy travelers.
Christoph Seidler, Der Spiegel: “Given the problems we have in the world, this is something that basically nobody needs. Also, the phase we are in at the moment is a really interesting upheaval from my point of view. The era of space travel by states is now coming to an end. We see something new happen, namely space travel which is supported by private companies, where the states will be the only customers. Then say go here and there. And Then you can send state astronauts there. But you’ll also take private astronauts with you. It’s best we don’t just dismiss it as a billionaire’s fad, because it’s much more than that.”