On July 11, 2021, the British Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, of which Virgin Galactic is a part, will fly into space. Touristic ± Cony. On July 20, only 9 days later, a similar feat will be performed by American Jeff Bezos, the main competitor of Branson and founder of Amazon and Blue Origin.
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have long been working on tourist space flights. They recently announced that years of effort were not in vain, and that July 2021 will be the month when a new era in space tourism will begin. Symbolically, during the first commercial flight, their superiors would be on board the machines of the two companies.
Blue Origin Origins
Both companies started at a somewhat similar time when it came to commercial matters flights Private companies in the space yet to come. Blue Origin was founded in 2000, two years before SpaceX, for example, and four years before Virgin Galactic.
Almost nothing is known about the early years of Operation Blue Origin. In fact, the world learned of the existence of such a company only after three years. The fact that he plans to handle commercial spaceflight in the future only became clear in 2005, when Jeff Bezos admitted that Blue Origin was building a spacecraft capable of making suborbital flights to an altitude of about 100 kilometers (the so-called Karman Line, i.e. the edge of the universe).
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Bezos made it clear that he would like people to be able to experience being in outer space as part of short, sub-orbital flights. At that time, flights into orbit (to the International Space Station) were offered by the Russians (in total, in the years 2001-2009, there were only 8 such flights compared to 7 tourists space ships). However, it lasted for a very long time (several days each) and was very expensive and troublesome (it was necessary to undergo, among other things, a whole series of exercises).
Jeff Bezos has set itself the goal of building a vertical take-off spacecraft that can be used multiple times, reducing the cost of flying in space. Named New Shepard (after Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut), its first commercial flight was scheduled for 2010. Later, these plans were changed several times, and today we know that Bezos had to wait 11 more years until Commercial flights take off.
Shepherd’s new capsule come in. Blue Origin (www.blueorigin.com)
Virgin Galactic’s origins
Similar assumptions also drove Richard Branson when he founded Virgin Galactic in 2004. One of his many businesses (he had founded Virgin Atlantic Airways many years earlier) was one of the Virgin Group conglomerate.
Branson also wanted to enable short, comfortable sub-orbital flights that would allow him to spend a few moments in space. However, the idea of the goal was somewhat different, because instead of a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, he wanted to use a spacecraft. It is a machine that combines the advantages of a space rocket and an airplane.
It can fly using lift, but is powered by a rocket engine, which allows it to reach heights that conventional aircraft cannot reach. In order to have the opportunity for such a concept, Branson in 2005 together with American aircraft designer Bert Rutan founded The Spaceship Company (in 2012 it was completely acquired by Virgin Galactic).
Home plane for VSS unit come in. Virgo Galaxy
It was this company that created the SpaceShipTwo series of spacecraft (the first aircraft launched in 2010). It owns the VSS Unity aircraft that will launch Branson into space on July 11th. Earlier, in 2008, WhiteKnightTwo was created – a premium aircraft, which is a space plane at a suitable altitude.
Branson initially planned that the first commercial flight into space would take place in 2014, i.e. (similar to Blue Origin) a decade after its creation. Unfortunately, Virgin Galactic also faced a brutal reality. In 2014, the VSS Enterprise exploded during a high-altitude test flight.
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft on flight in May 2021 Photo: Virgin Galactic / screenshot from the movie Virgin Galactic on YouTube
As a result of the plane crash, one of the pilots was killed, which also contributed to the delay in the program. However, tests of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft have been going on for several years, and these machines have already been in space several times. However, Sunday’s flight will be the first ever with a full crew (six people) on board.
How do you go into space? two different concepts
Over the next ten days, we will observe two different ideas for sub-orbital commercial flights. In the case of Virgin Galactic, the flight will take a little longer and the VSS Unity spacecraft will be raised to an altitude of about 15 km by the mother plane.
After separating the VSS, Unity will begin a single flight to an altitude of about 91 km, during which the crew will experience weightlessness and will have a moment of admiration of the ground from a great height. The machine will then enter deeper into the atmosphere, where it will begin to head toward the runway from which the flight began. The landing will be similar to a normal plane.
For a change, Blue Origin created a rocket that returns to Earth after lifting the capsule with the astronauts into space and landing vertically at a designated location (the rocket is retrieved for subsequent flights). The height of the capsule itself is just over 103 kilometers, during which passengers can enjoy their stay in space for a few minutes.
History of Shepherd’s new voyage come in. Blue Origin (www.blueorigin.com)
However, this is the only part of the Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic cruises. The New Shepard’s capsule after returning from space rests on parachutes in the desert near the launch site, and the crew is picked up by the company’s motorized personnel. It should be noted that on July 20, only the first manned flight of the New Shepard will take place. So far, it has been tested without a crew (the ship is automated and does not require a pilot).
Both journeys are described in detail in the following texts:
Only 9 days difference
Finally, answering the question of how – although work on sub-tropical flights for both companies has been going on for years – the two flights will be separated by only 9 days. Of course, neither company has revealed behind-the-scenes details of the preparations, but it’s no secret that the two companies competed for the title of first in space.
Both at the same time did not reveal for a long time when they would first fly as part of a commercial (not test) mission. It was first revealed by Jeff Bezos, who revealed that it will happen on July 20. It didn’t take long for Richard Branson – who has never hidden his commitment to beating Bezos – responded.