Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launch: Launch time, how to watch, all about New Shepard

Jeff Bezos will attempt to travel more than 62 miles above West Texas on board New Shepard

                            Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launch: Launch time, how to watch, all about New Shepard
Before final take off, Jeff Bezos' New Shepard NS-14 lifts off from Launch Site One in West Texas (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25 and Blue Origin)

Last week, Richard Branson achieved spaceflight when he rode a space plane from Virgin Galactic, a company he founded 14 years ago, to an altitude of more than 50 miles above the skies of New Mexico. This week, another billionaire will try to do the same — and a bit more. Jeff Bezos and three crewmates will fly from a desert site in West Texas on an 11-minute trip to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard.

The richest human being on Earth — and presumably, in the universe — will attempt to travel more than 62 miles above West Texas. Bezos reportedly is not very nervous. "People keep asking if I'm nervous. I'm not really nervous, I'm excited. I'm curious. I want to know what we're going to learn," Bezos said. "We've been training. This vehicle is ready. This crew is ready. This team is amazing. We just feel really good about it."


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The New Shepard booster lands after Mission NS-15's successful mission to space (Blue Origin)

Here’s how you can watch the Amazon founder take on this mission:

How to watch the Blue Origin space flight?

Amazon will begin coverage of the launch at 6.30 am CT/7.30 am ET on July 20 on the Blue Origin YouTube channel. You can also watch it on the Blue Origin website.

When is it happening?

Bezos and three other passengers will blast off to the edge of space on July 20. The launch is scheduled for 9 am ET. The date coincides with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

What will happen?

Tuesday's trip will be the first time Blue Origin, a company Bezos founded in 2000, will ferry human passengers to space. Since its founding, the New Shepard rocket —  named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space — which will be carrying Bezos to space, has flown successfully 15 times.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage (Blue Origin)

The New York Times reported that, unlike Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane, New Shepard, which consists of a booster and a capsule on top, where the passengers will be, is more of a traditional rocket. That is to say, it will be taking off vertically. Once the booster uses up its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellant, the capsule will detach from the booster.

As it moves above the 62-mile boundary, the passengers will unbuckle and float around the capsule, experiencing about four minutes of free fall. They will also see views of the blue planet from the capsule’s windows. After this, the booster will reportedly land first and vertically, similar to the touchdowns of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. The capsule will land minutes after the booster, descending under a parachute. The whole flight should last about 11 minutes.

Who are the others accompanying Bezos?


Aside from the Amazon founder, three people will be on board. Mark Bezos, 50, the younger brother of Jeff Bezos, will be accompanying him. Mark is a co-founder and general partner at HighPost Capital, a private equity firm. He previously worked as head of communications at the Robin Hood Foundation, New York City's largest poverty-fighting organization.

Another passenger is Mary Wallace Funk, who reportedly goes by Wally. Funk was a pilot. And at 82, she will become the oldest person to fly to space. A flying instructor in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the '60s, she became one of the Mercury 13, who were tested for space flight in the same manner as men, a test that women were then considered unable to endure. After this, she became the first female Air Safety Investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

When Bezos announced his space flight plans, he said one of the other seats on New Shepard would be auctioned to the highest bidder. The proceeds, he said, would go to Bezos’ space-focused charity, Club for the Future. More than 7,600 people from 159 countries participated in the auction, which concluded on June 12. The winning bid was $28 million. Just five days before the flight, Blue Origin announced that the person with the winning bid decided to defer the trip to a future New Shepard launch “due to scheduling conflicts.”

Going instead is an 18-year-old from the Netherlands called Oliver Daemen, and he will become the youngest person ever to go to space. Daemen is the son of the chief executive of a private equity investment firm. “This is a dream come true!” Daemen said. “I hadn’t counted on this at all until last week that surprising phone call from Blue Origin came. This is so unbelievably cool! The flight to and into space only takes 10 minutes, but I already know that these will be the most special 10 minutes of my life.”

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