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Blue Origin’s first space tourism flight takes place on July 20

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, has set the date of its first space tourism flight on the New Shepard spacecraft for July 20.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space on July 20. The company is offering one seat on the flight to the winning bidder of an online auction.

New Shepard is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to fly to space. It is a reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts past the Kármán line.

The spacecraft can take six passengers and includes a capsule and rocket. The capsule boasts six observation windows, which are the largest ever used in space.

“Only 569 people have ever been over the Kármán line. With our New Shepard vehicle, we’re about to change that and change it dramatically,” said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s director of astronaut sales (via BBC).

Online auction for space on New Shepard

New Shepard has flown 15 successful consecutive missions to space and back above the Kármán line via a flight programme to test its redundant safety systems.

“I personally think people are going to see what a cool experience this is and are going to want to do it themselves. And then, as hopefully the prices come down, the scale goes up,” said Cornell.

The winning bid amount will be donated to Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s foundation. It will go towards inspiring future generations to pursue careers in STEM and space travel.

Virgin Galactic also aims to fly private customers to space in early 2022, and recently hired former Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde to help design the experience journey.

Spacecraft named after astronaut Alan Shepard

“What Virgin Galactic is doing, in democratizing space travel, has reached a moment where it is about to enter history,” said Rohde.

“It’s happening right here in New Mexico, and it’s very rare to be a person who gets to be in the place, at the time, that history begins.”

Additionally, Orbital Assembly Corporation (OAC) is moving forward on its space tourism project with the world’s first space hotel set to open in 2027.

Images: Blue Origin

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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