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posted by martyb on Friday July 02 2021, @12:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the Musk-will-beat-'em-both-to-orbit-and-to-Mars dept.

Blue Origin flight: Wally Funk, 82, to join Jeff Bezos space flight

An 82-year-old woman who has spent six decades trying to reach space will join Jeff Bezos on the first human flight by his space company later this month. Wally Funk, who underwent training in the 1960s, will become the oldest person to ever fly to space. Mr Bezos has invited Ms Funk as an "honoured guest" and shared video on Instagram of him telling her the news. She will join the Amazon founder, his brother Mark and a mystery person who paid $28m (£20m) at auction for a seat.

[...] Funk volunteered in 1961 for the Women in Space programme where she underwent rigorous physical and mental testing in the hope of becoming an astronaut. But the scheme was later abruptly cancelled and she and the other women - collectively known as the Mercury 13 - never made it to space with Nasa.

Game on—Sir Richard Branson will attempt to go to space on July 11

On Thursday afternoon, Virgin Galactic said its founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, will attempt to go to space on July 11.

Dubbed the "Unity 22" mission, this flight on the VSS Unity spacecraft will carry a full crew of two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and four mission specialists, including Branson. "Building on the success of the company's most recent spaceflight in May, Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer experience objectives," the company said in a statement.

The timing of this flight is significant, because a July 11 mission would allow Branson to beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space. Bezos has said he will fly on the first human flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, developed and tested by his Blue Origin rocket company. That mission is set for July 20.

Thursday had been a great day for Bezos and Blue Origin, as the company received plaudits from across the space industry for inviting Wally Funk to join Bezos on the New Shepard flight. Funk, 82, was member of the privately funded "Mercury 13" program for women who ultimately were not selected to go into space in the 1960s. She is seen as someone who really, really deserves to go to space.

But Virgin Galactic's announcement will upstage this moment for Bezos, as it furthers the "battle of the billionaires" to see who will go into space first.

Previously: Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight
Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space
Blue Origin Auctions New Shepard Seat for $28 Million


Original Submission

Related Stories

Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight 28 comments

Jeff Bezos says he will fly into space next month

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has revealed on Instagram that he plans to fly on Blue Origin's first human spaceflight next month.

"I want to go on this flight because it's a thing I've wanted to do all my life," Bezos, the richest person in the world, said in a post published Monday morning. "It's an adventure. It's a big deal for me."

Bezos said he invited his younger brother, Mark, whom he described as his best friend, to go along. The two brothers will join the winner of an auction for a third seat on the flight, which is set to take place on July 20 of this year. Bidding for this seat is already at $2.8 million but is likely to go higher during a live auction on July 12. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future.

[...] Now, Bezos may not be bringing his mom on the first human flight of the vehicle—but he will be bringing a family member. This speaks to the company's, and his, confidence in the safety of New Shepard. After this mission, Blue Origin is expected to begin flying other passengers on future flights later this year. The company has not yet set a public price for tickets inside the capsule, which can carry as many as six people.


Original Submission

Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space 34 comments

Branson may make a last-ditch effort to beat Bezos into space:

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said on Monday he would fly on the first human spaceflight of his company's New Shepard spacecraft. This mission will launch from Blue Origin's spaceport in West Texas on July 20, which is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969.

With this timeline, Bezos seemed almost certain to beat his suborbital space tourism rival, Sir Richard Branson, into space. Setting aside whether Branson's VSS Unity vehicle reaches space—its maximum altitude is just below the Kármán line, or 100 km—this is nonetheless a meaningful milestone.


Original Submission

Blue Origin Auctions New Shepard Seat for $28 Million 25 comments

Sold! Bidder pays $28m for spare seat on space flight with Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin has sold the spare seat of the company's 20 July New Shepard space rocket blast-off for $28m, the company announced on Saturday.

With 20 active bidders starting at $4.8m during the 10-minute auction, bids escalated in the final three minutes of the sale. Initially, some 7,600 people registered to bid from 159 countries, the company said. The winner, whose identity has not been announced, will join the Amazon founder Bezos and his brother Mark on the flight.

The 11-minute, automated flight – the company's 16th but first carrying humans – will lift off from Van Horn, Texas. The capsule will carry as many as six passengers, though the company has not yet revealed who else will be onboard.

[...] The company has said the auction price will be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future, whose stated mission "is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in Stem (science, technology, engineering, and math) and to help invent the future of life in space".

Also at The Verge and BBC.

Previously: Jeff Bezos' Vision for Space: One Trillion Population in the Solar System
Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight

Related: Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space


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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Frosty Piss on Friday July 02 2021, @12:50PM (9 children)

    by Frosty Piss (4971) on Friday July 02 2021, @12:50PM (#1152217)

    Well, one could say that since it is going to be a one way trip, I suppose it’s good she lived a full life.

    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Friday July 02 2021, @01:10PM (8 children)

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 02 2021, @01:10PM (#1152222) Journal

      Are there problems with the spacecraft?

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Friday July 02 2021, @01:17PM (2 children)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday July 02 2021, @01:17PM (#1152225) Journal

        It has become popular to wish death upon the "space billionaires". I think Ars Technica cleaned up those comments on the linked story but you can find similar comments all over Twitter [twitter.com].

        Launching Jeff Bezos into space is a leap too far for insurers [nbcnews.com]

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday July 02 2021, @09:24PM (1 child)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 02 2021, @09:24PM (#1152371) Journal

          I don't much care if they survive their silly little games or not. If the survive - OK. If they die - that's OK too.

          Meanwhile, neither of them is "going into space". Neither has launched a payload out toward Mars orbit, for example. Neither of them is going to the space station. Neither of them is going to accomplish anything. Phhhht.

          If there's any real danger involved, there are a dozen or more billionaires I'd like to nominate to go along. Soros, Murdoch, Bloomberg, Gates, (most of) the Waltons, Koch, Dorsey - and if there's room, maybe Trump too.

          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:03AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:03AM (#1152408)

            Branson's Virgin Orbit has actually launched satellites into LEO, so while Virgin Galactic is just a fancy carnival ride I can't begrudge it even if I've given up hope that it will ever actually reach orbit itself. He's actually doing something with his money, he isn't afraid to chase hard problems, win or lose, and he hasn't tried to outlaw the competition. Frankly, the world could do with a few more like him.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Friday July 02 2021, @01:41PM (3 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 02 2021, @01:41PM (#1152233) Journal
        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
        • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Friday July 02 2021, @04:00PM (2 children)

          by Opportunist (5545) on Friday July 02 2021, @04:00PM (#1152269)

          Sorry, but there is no way to keep him up there. The rocket doesn't have enough dV to reach escape velocity, whatever you do, the orbit will eventually decay and he will reenter.

          Best you can do is omit the heat shield. Which would arguably increase the potential dV due to less mass...

          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday July 02 2021, @04:23PM

            by Immerman (3985) on Friday July 02 2021, @04:23PM (#1152283)

            You don't even need escape velocity (= enough to leave Earth's gravitational influence entirely), just orbital velocity.

            For low orbit though, that's still about 10x the dV needed to reach altitude. And neither Blue Origin nor Virgin Galactic are even reaching minimum orbit altitude - you need at least 150km to complete even a single orbit, and almost twice that to maintain a modestly stable orbit for any length of time.

          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:18AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:18AM (#1152410)

            New Shepard doesn't have a heat shield since it maxes out at mach 2.1. SpaceShipTwo reaches mach 3.4 and doesn't need a heat shield either.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Frosty Piss on Saturday July 03 2021, @03:34AM

        by Frosty Piss (4971) on Saturday July 03 2021, @03:34AM (#1152474)

        Are there problems with the spacecraft?

        Other than being a toy rocket developed by the King of Cheap Chinese Crap?

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by c0lo on Friday July 02 2021, @02:02PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 02 2021, @02:02PM (#1152240) Journal
    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday July 02 2021, @05:04PM

    by sjames (2882) on Friday July 02 2021, @05:04PM (#1152302) Journal

    As many know, many corporate projects, in addition to whatever name marketing gives it, will have an internal name that is far more cool and generally descriptive.

    This is "project B Ark".

  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday July 02 2021, @05:13PM (5 children)

    by looorg (578) on Friday July 02 2021, @05:13PM (#1152303)

    That is nice of him, ok it's not like he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart since she is paying and it's probably also a fairly decent publicity stunt (doing what NASA refused to do, old woman in space etc).

    Not to mention that now he has a nice elderly lady as a hostage, now we have to let him, and his brother, return to earth.

    • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Friday July 02 2021, @08:23PM (3 children)

      by vux984 (5045) on Friday July 02 2021, @08:23PM (#1152357)

      Is she paying anything? I hadn't read that anywhere. I thought it was primarily a PR move (albeit a genuinely wonderful one).
      I know the other passenger is paying (via the autioned ticket).

      • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday July 02 2021, @08:38PM

        by looorg (578) on Friday July 02 2021, @08:38PM (#1152362)

        I just scanned some random articles to see who Funk is and some of them seemed to imply she paid but others seem to say it was a gift from Bezos. Who knows. It is probably more of a PR move anyway, also a nice thing to do.

      • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday July 02 2021, @08:41PM (1 child)

        by looorg (578) on Friday July 02 2021, @08:41PM (#1152364)

        Ms Funk previously spent $200,000 (£145,000) in 2010 on a ticket for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic programme - which recently got FAA approval to start taking paying customers on its own rocket missions.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57686654 [bbc.com]

        I might have misread that. Apparently she spent a fair chunk for a ride with the other space billionaire.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:24AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @12:24AM (#1152411)

          Her money to burn. I hope she has fun. At her age that can be a challenge, and I think she's the type that wants to die with her boots on.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday July 02 2021, @09:29PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 02 2021, @09:29PM (#1152372) Journal

      Coming to your television soon! 'Grannies in Space'

  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday July 02 2021, @05:41PM (3 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Friday July 02 2021, @05:41PM (#1152311)

    Now taking bets on Musk going for a July 10th Crew Dragon orbital flight, just as a big F-you to these posers.

    Seriously, I love a lot of what Musk is doing, but he can also be a pretty big asshole when the mood takes him.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @02:19AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @02:19AM (#1152440)

    You mean all through the 80s, 90s, 2000s she was going through the astronaut program? If so, if you've been in the program that long without a flight opportunity, it probably means there is a good reason you haven't graduated.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @05:59PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03 2021, @05:59PM (#1152617)

      None of the Mercury 13 were ever part of NASA's official astronaut program, so no, they never had a flight opportunity. They were part of the lobbying effort that eventually got women into the space program.

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