Just a minute after taking off from West Texas on Monday, the New Shepard burst into bright yellow flames. The flames were coming up from the single-engine at the bottom. For Jeff Bezos' space exploration company, Blue Origin, it was the first incident of its kind.
Luckily enough, no one was onboard during the flight. However, this rocket is the same kind that takes paying customers to the outer reaches of space. All Blue Origin’s rockets are now grounded pending the outcome of an investigation, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration, AP reported.
Booster failure on today’s uncrewed flight. Escape system performed as designed. pic.twitter.com/xFDsUMONTh— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 12, 2022
During today’s flight, the capsule escape system successfully separated the capsule from the booster. The booster impacted the ground. There are no reported injuries; all personnel have been accounted for.— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) September 12, 2022
What is Blue Origin? Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, it is a privately-funded American aerospace manufacturer and suborbital spaceflight operation. It aims to make "space travel cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles."
In July 2021, Jeff Bezos and his team participated in Blue Origin's first crew mission. (the crew: who bought the seats).
As of yet, Blue Origin's ticket prices are not disclosed. It was a 10-minute and 10 seconds space trip, last year.
Bezos was accompanied by his brother Mark Bezos, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, 18, a physics student. Daemen's trip was sponsored by his father, Joes Daemen, CEO of Somerset Capital Partners.
A seat worth USD 42,OOO per second? Originally, Daemen's seat was auctioned off and won by an anonymous vendor for 28 million USD (which works out to $2,543.22 per minute, or $42,424 per second). Due to a scheduling issue, the anonymous bidder was unable to take the flight.
Jeffs’s little (10 mins) trip's news was welcomed with a petition, signed by 1,65,000 people, with a demand that he should stay in space and “should not return back.”
In his defence, Bezos did say that “It was his dream to go to space.” (sure!)
Space-race of billionaires: Bezos is not the first billionaire to have “space dreams”. The obsession of billionaires with space has grown recently, and they are spending millions on it. This has now become the status quo for extremely rich people.
Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, all three billionaires are today known for their desire to conquer space. Out of these three, Bezos and Branson have travelled to space.
In spite of all the recent hype, ordinary people don't seem all that excited about space. Pew Research poll from 2018 found that the public was evenly divided on the future prospect of space tourism.
A majority of people also believe that NASA should focus more on keeping an eye out for asteroids and other debris in the Earth's atmosphere and climate than on sending people into space.
In fact, it appears that the general public has grown resentful of billionaire-led space missions and has received their share of online backlash.
People have also argued that Bezos, Branson or Musk's money should be used to support important global issues like world hunger, tax reforms, medical research and climate change.