Billionaire Jeff Bezos gave a sneak peek of what the inside of his New Shepard crew capsule looks like.
Bezos’s private rocket company Blue Origin plans to use the New Shepard rocket for suborbital space tourism. Blue Origin officials haven’t yet announced when they hope to fly their first tourist customers.
“Our New Shepard flight test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system,” Bezos said in an email release. “In parallel, we’ve been designing the capsule interior with an eye toward precision engineering, safety, and comfort…Every seat’s a window seat.”
The console in the center of the capsule is actually an escape engine that will allow future passengers an abort system in the case of an anomaly during launch.
Blue Origin’s named its suborbital rocket after Alan Shepard, the first NASA astronaut to take a suborbital trip to space in 1961. The company’s orbital rocket will be named New Glenn, named for John Glenn, the first American in orbit.
Eventually Blue Origin plans to launch a larger rocket to bring payloads beyond Earth’s orbit, and the company’s named that vehicle after Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon.
Blue Origin unveiled the two-stage New Glenn rocket earlier this month that is 270 feet tall, 23 feet in diameter and capable of generating 3.85 million pounds of thrust to reach orbit. This is much larger than NASA’s 212-foot-tall Space Launch System rocket, which will only generate 3.6 million pounds of thrust.
New Glenn’s engines will burn liquefied natural gas and oxygen, and will have more than 150 percent of the thrust of the Saturn V rockets that carried humans to the moon in the 1960s and ’70s. New Glenn is expected to make its initial test launch prior to 2020.
Blue Origin has been competing with companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop the first fully reusable rocket. Bezos’s company successfully landed the first reusable rocket after officially going to space in November, and has repeated the feat four times. New Glenn rockets will be larger than SpaceX’s 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy rocket.
Blue Origin is already opening up “early access” to ticket information for potential space tourists and is intended partially for space tourism flights. The company performs suborbital research for NASA.
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