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Jeff Bezos will be one of the first humans his company sends to space. Here’s how risky that really is

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The answer is not what you might expect. Historically, space travel is fraught with danger. Although the risks are not necessarily astronomical for Bezos’ exit into space, as his space company Blue Origin has spent most of the last decade launching the New Shepard suborbital rocket in which it will conduct a series of submarine flights. test successfully. (Also, being in space is Bezos’ lifelong dream.)

Still, what Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and the winner of an online auction, will make the first manned flight of New Shepard, a suborbital rocket system and fully autonomous spacecraft designed to bring ticket holders on short walks of joy into space – it’s not entirely risk-free.

It will then show Bezos ’flight and how far people are taking their lives in their hands when they go into outer space these days.

How is the flight

When most people think of space flight, they think of an astronaut orbiting the Earth, floating in space, for at least a few days.

This is not what the Bezos brothers and their fellow passengers will do.

They will go up and down again and will do so in less time (about 11 minutes) than it takes most people to get to work.

Suborbital flights are very different from orbital flights of the type most of us think of when we think of spaceflight. Blue Shepard’s New Shepard flights will be short trips, up and down, although they will go more than 62 miles above Earth, which is widely regarded as the edge of outer space.

Jeff Bezos will march into space on the first manned rocket flight
Orbital rockets must consume enough power to impact at least 17,000 miles per hour, or what is known as orbital velocity, essentially giving a spacecraft enough energy to keep whipping around the Earth instead of being dragged immediately by gravity.

Suborbital flights require much less power and speed. This means that it takes less time to burn the rocket, lower temperatures that burn the outside of the ship, less force and compression in the ship, and generally fewer opportunities for something to go very wrong.

New Shepard’s suborbital fights it hits about three times the speed of sound (about 2,300 miles per hour) and flies straight up until the rocket spends most of its fuel. The crew capsule will then separate from the rocket at the top of the path and continue briefly upwards before the capsule stays almost at the top of the flight path, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. It works like an expanded version of the weightlessness you experience when you reach the top of a roller coaster hill, just before gravity takes the wheelbarrow or, in Bezos ’case, the space capsule, which they call back to. land.
A graph showing the flight profile of the Blue Shepard's New Shepard.

The New Shepard capsule then deploys a large parachute plume to slow its descent to less than 20 miles per hour before it hits the ground.

The rocket, which flies separately, restarts the engines and uses its on-board computers to perform a vertical and accurate landing. The booster landing looks similar to what SpaceX does with its Falcon 9 rockets, although these rockets are much more powerful than New Shepard and, yes, more prone to explode on impact.

What are the risks?

Jeff Bezos & # 39;  Blue Origin is auctioning off the ticket for the first space tourism flight

The new Blue Shepard capsule, fully autonomous and in need of a pilot, has never had any explosive setbacks in 15 test flights. And the nature of Bezos ’flight means it presents intrinsically lower risks than more ambitious space travel attempts. But that doesn’t mean the risk is zero either.

Because suborbital flights do not require as much speed or the intense process of trying to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere at incredible speeds, they are considered much less risky than orbital flights. With an orbital re-entry, the external temperatures of a spacecraft can reach up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and astronauts can experiment 4.5 g of force that is also placed on the spacecraft, while the increasingly thick atmosphere whips the capsule.
High speeds and high altitudes carry inherent risks, and even small mistakes can have big consequences. In general, the Earth’s atmosphere cannot survive for significant amounts of time above altitudes of 50,000 feet without a space suit, and Bezos will travel up to 350,000 feet. But the capsule where he will travel will be pressed, so he does not need a special suit to keep him safe and will have access to an oxygen mask if the cabin loses pressure. The spacecraft is also equipped with an abortion system designed to undo the New Shepard capsule and rocket passengers in an emergency. There are also backup security features to help the capsule land smoothly even if a pair of parachutes cannot be deployed.
Jeff Bezos tested communications systems before the first flight of the New Shepard spacecraft in 2015.

But still, there is absolutely no way to guarantee safety in case New Shepard malfunctions.

Although suborbital flights are less risky than orbital missions, they can be deadly.

One of Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft, for example, broke down in 2014 when one of the vehicle’s co-pilots prematurely deployed the boom system designed to keep the vessel stable while making the descent. The drag added to the plane tore him to pieces and killed one of the pilots.

(Blue Origin competitor Virgin Galactic has since he had three successful test flights of a revamped version of its SpaceShipTwo space plan.)

Blue Origin has not encountered any similar tragic accidents during its testing phase, although, as an old adage from the industry says, space is difficult.

But, Bezos pointed out, the risk is worth it.

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