Blue Origin founder and magnate Jeff Bezos, along with three other crew members, is set to launch for space in the spaceflight company’s New Shephard rocket at 6:30 pm (India Standard Time) on Tuesday, July 20. The other travellers include 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk, 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen, and 53-year-old Mark Bezos, younger brother of Bezos.
Hours before New Shepherd’s launch into space from West Texas, US, Bezos talked to Good Morning America about how he was feeling before his trip to space.
“I am really excited to figure out how it is going to change me,” Bezos told the news programme. He said that he has heard that going to space makes people realise the fragility and preciousness of our planet. Upon being asked if he was nervous, given his rocket is fully automated, Bezos replied that Blue Origin had already had 15 successful flights. “I am excited but I am not nervous,” Bezos added.
Funk, the oldest person to ever go to space, expressed her excitement telling that she is pumped up. Before this, Funk had twice been trained to go to space but the programs did not take place. Now, it is time for her much-awaited dream to fulfil. New Shepherd, other than carrying the oldest person to go to space, happens to take the youngest space traveller along as well. Daemen, who is the first paying customer on the space trip, told the news program that he had not realised yet how special it was for him to be the youngest person to go to space.
Blue Origin’s New Shephard is a reusable rocket and will be the first spacecraft to carry an all civilian crew, as no crew members on the Blue Origin rocket are space pilots or space engineers. Ahead of the launch, Bezos and the other crew members underwent a 14-hour-long training program on July 18, which included a simulation of their spaceflight, a review and safety briefings.
Bezos’ tour to space will be the second commercial manned space travel. Virgin Galactic, another commercial spaceflight company, sent its six-membered crew to space on July 11. The space travellers included the company’s founder Richard Branson, and India-born aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla, who is an employee at the company. The crew also had two pilots, unlike Bezos’ flight.