Pete Davidson and five paying customers will fly on Jeff Bezos’ suborbital rocket
Blue Origin’s goal is to make these suborbital spaceflights a mainstay of pop culture, providing a 10-minute supersonic ride to welcomed guests — who until now have been mostly celebrities — and anyone else who has the means.
The crew will spend a few days training at Blue Origin’s facility in West Texas before the day of the flight, when they board the New Shepard crew capsule that sits atop the rocket. After liftoff, the rocket will exceed the speed of sound and, near the top of its flight path, will detach from the capsule. As the rocket booster returns to Earth for a vertical landing, the crewed capsule will continue to climb higher into the atmosphere more than 60 miles above the surface where the blackness of space is visible and the Capsule windows will offer unobstructed views of Earth.
As gravity begins to pull the capsule back to the ground, passengers will once again experience intense g-forces before sets of parachutes are deployed to slow the vehicle. It will then land at less than 20 miles per hour in the Texas desert.
Because the flights are suborbital – meaning they don’t generate enough speed or take the right trajectory to avoid being immediately dragged down by Earth’s gravity – the whole show will only last about 10 minutes.
Blue Origin is the first company to offer scheduled suborbital space tourism flights. Its main competitor, Virgin Galactic, notably made its first crewed flight – which included founder Richard Branson – before Bezos flew last July. But Virgin Galactic has yet to follow up that flight with another crewed flight after it later became clear the company’s spaceplane had deviated from its designated flight path. The company now says it is undergoing independent technology upgrades and could resume flying later this year.
SpaceX is the only private company that offers orbital travel. The company conducted the first-ever all-civilian flight into orbit last September, taking a billionaire and three chosen crewmates on a three-day trip. And later this month, the company plans to take four paying customers on a flight to the International Space Station, which orbits about 200 miles above Earth.
Blue Origin did not have specific updates on BE-4 when contacted for comment.