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The first space tourist: Bezos, Branson or ...

The first space tourist: Bezos, Branson or …

Now, if everything goes as planned, then in a few days we will be able to say that after many announcements, the era of space tourism will finally begin. There are two “projects” at stake: Project: From Virgin Galactic by Richard Branson Which is expected to bring the first tourist into space on July 11 and That’s from Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos (Founder of Amazon), which is scheduled to leave 9 days later, on July 20.

With ads! But in recent months, the race for control of the tourist space has seen a series of ups and downs. The first announcement came from Jeff Bezos, who announced that a tourist’s first trip into space would take place on July 20, the date chosen to commemorate the first moon landing. Later, Bezos specified that on board the starship of his blue descent he would be there personally, along with his brother Mark (In the video below, a test done by Blue Origin a few months ago)

Surprisingly then, he announced that a “ticket” would be sold at auction: it was given to an unknown but wealthy buyer, if it is true that he put $28 million on the painting well, which will go to charity. Finally, recently, the latest development: another seat that will be occupied by 82-year-old Wally Funk, a highly experienced pilot who, during NASA tests in the 1960s, after she (and 12 other women) demonstrated to be fully capable of flying in space, was overlooked by NASA who preferred to focus only on men.

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Branson raises! When all eyes are on Blue Origin, here’s the relaunch of Richard Branson and his company Virgin Galactic: The first space tourist will be Branson himself, who on July 11 will board Unity, a rocket plane that, in turn, will be floated by a mother plane, the Scaled Composites Model 348. White Knight Two (WK2). The module will be launched at an altitude of about 15 km above sea level and from there, after a flight of a few minutes, it will independently reach an altitude of 80-100 km. At that point, Branson and his crew will experience weightlessness, enjoying the darkness of the universe on one side and the blue of the Earth on the other, before returning to our planet with loneliness flying like a glider.

Will Branson win this race the title of the first space tourist? There are ongoing discussions on this point. First of all, the Virgin Galactic flight is a test launch and not a “routine” flight (as it would be on Blue Origin). But there is another reason related to the height reached: if the Virgin Galactic spacecraft had not touched an altitude of 100 km, then perhaps Branson would not be able to call himself an astronaut in all respects.

limits. In fact, according to the conventions of most physicists and regulators, in order for someone to be able to say they are “in space”, they must cross the so-called Karmann Line: this is the altitude (about 100 km, in fact) where the air begins to be thin So much so that propulsion systems based on aerodynamic forces cannot work.

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Even the United Nations has historically accepted this agreement which considers the Karman Line a boundary of space. On the other hand, US authorities have always been less restrictive … and considered a lower altitude, about 80 kilometers, as according to Andrew Gallagher Haley (American lawyer who was first, in the 1960s, a specialist in space law) as the altitude at which planes stop Conventional about producing an elevator that keeps it in flight.

First? However you want to see it, in fact neither Branson nor Bezos will be the first to go into space and pay with their own money. So far, in fact, seven people have been hosted on the space station for eight/ten days: the first tourist was Dennis Tito in 2001, exactly 20 years ago. He and everyone else had to undergo months of intensive training in Russia and the United States. In fact, living on the space station requires a lot of training because nothing can be left to chance.

And perhaps this is exactly what distinguishes a tourist mission on the International Space Station from a sub-orbital (i.e. it does not go into orbit, but returns to Earth after a few minutes) like the one planned for Branson and Bezos: the possibility of preparation in a few minutes. days (plus the cost of the “ticket”, which for the space station is in the tens of millions of dollars, while the cost of such suborbital flights is about 200-300 thousand dollars).

While waiting to see how these first space missions will take off with tourists on board, “others aren’t watching”: SpaceX is planning year-end “Inspiration 4,” funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman, which aims to reach low Earth orbit, just above the International Space Station. And stay there for about 4 days. On the Russian front, a Soyuz flight is scheduled for October, which should take actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko aboard the space station to shoot scenes for a movie.

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