Blue Origin is three days away from making history with its first astronaut launch, which will launch the company’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
The mission, which will launch on Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard rocket and space capsule, will lift off from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), and yes, there will be a webcast. It should start at about 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and cover the crew’s walkout to the rocket and other prelaunch activities. You can watch it on Space.com and on BlueOrigin.com.
Blue Origin will hold a prelaunch news conference on Sunday (July 18) at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) to discuss details of the launch. That will be webcast on BlueOrigin.com and simulcast here on Space.com if possible.
Space.com will offer live updates of the mission here on launch day (which happens to be the 52nd anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing), as well as over the next few days leading up to the launch.
This mission has been a long-time coming for Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000. The company has flown 15 uncrewed test flights of its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft, culminating in an “astronaut rehearsal” flight in April 2021. The company wants to fly paying passengers (and scientists with experiments, too) on trips to suborbital space that fly higher than 62 miles (100 kilometers).
Infographic: How Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket works
To raise awareness for its First Human Spaceflight, Blue Origin held a public auction for a seat on the flight, which was won by an anonymous bidder for $28 million. During the auction, Blue Origin announced that Bezos, his brother and Funk would be on the flight.
But 5 days before launch, Blue Origin announced that the auction winner had opted out of the launch, citing schedule conflicts. Instead, Daemon joined the crew as his father Joes Daemon had submitted the second-highest bid in the auction. The amount has not been disclosed.
As we prepare for Blue Origin’s press conference on Saturday, here’s a few videos on the upcoming mission from Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and the company to tide you over. — Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief