Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Plans to Send Tourists into Space by Early 2019

Friday, 06 October 2017 - 7:45PM
Space
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Friday, 06 October 2017 - 7:45PM
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Plans to Send Tourists into Space by Early 2019
YouTube/Blue Origin
Elon Musk and SpaceX had better watch out - another company is hot on their heels, and looking to make a big impact on the space tourism market.

Founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, aerospace company Blue Origin is intended to rival SpaceX as a provider of luxury outer space adventure vacation packages, allowing the stargazers of the world access to the cosmos in exchange for bucketloads of cash.

The company's CEO, Bob Smith (since Bezos is busy day-to-day ruling over his Amazonian empire) recently announced to the National Space Council his company's plans to start flying customers into space within the next eighteen months. Blue Origin had previously been expected to begin commercial flights sooner than this, but Smith insists that nothing has changed, adding "we will fly humans when we're ready, and not a moment sooner".



That's probably a good idea - Elon Musk has shown just how much preparation (and explosive failure) it takes to get commercial space flight operational and consistently safe. While SpaceX is already established as a commercial space haulage firm, and has contracted some initial customers for rides on its Dragon capsule, Blue Origin is still looking to be one of the early big names in this developing tourism field, so it's for the better that they're not caving to pressure to rush things.

With initial commercial flights planned for April 2019, Blue Origin does lag behind SpaceX somewhat; Musk's company intends to start their tourism program by the end of 2018. What will make Blue Origin's flights more appealing, though, will be an aim to make them more affordable, reaching a wider pool of potential customers by not giving quite such a luxury, fancy experience.

This is likely going to work, but it does come with inherent drawbacks. We don't know what Blue Origin's tourism offering will look like, but it's probably worth imagining these two services as the difference between chartering a private plane and flying coach. Now imagine that if anybody throws up in coach (very likely, this will be a bumpy ride), that puke may float around in zero gravity for the rest of the flight, as you spend your time strapped to a row of chairs and unable to get up to stretch your legs for several hours.

Hopefully Blue Origin will find a way to make their commercial flights both comfortable and affordable, but something here's got to give, and most people will be willing to put up with some discomfort and humiliation if it means getting to travel into space, even if only briefly.



As long as the company isn't skimping on safety to keep costs down, everything should certainly be a fantastic experience regardless of the lack of sleek, shiny spacesuits and a luxury private capsule.

The good news is that for those of us who can't drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on space flight, we might just have the chance to leave the planet behind before long. Here's hoping Blue Origin gets everything sorted, and that using their service will be less annoying than waiting for Amazon to deliver an important package.
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