‘No description can equal this’: Blue Origin shares video of awestruck William Shatner, 90, in zero gravity as he becomes the oldest person in space and gazes down to Earth from the window of New Shepard capsule
- New footage shows Star Trek’s William Shatner marvel at his view of Earth from his mission orbiting the planet aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket
- Shatner and crew were captured floating weightlessly in wonder as they looked down on Earth
- In the clip, Shatner is seemingly taken aback by being weightless and repeating ‘oh, Jesus’ while his fellow crew members played around with floating toys
- Eventually Shatner adjusts and is heard laughing joyfully and says ‘no description can equal this,’ while looking outside a window at the amazing view
- At one point Shatner pulled his face as close to the window as possible to soak in the once-in-a-lifetime few
- Blue Origin sent four people into space Wednesday during its second crewed flight mission
- William Shatner, 90, who is famed for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, is now the oldest person in space
- There they spent three minutes floating around in zero gravity before returning to Earth
New footage shows Star Trek’s William Shatner marvel at his view of Earth from his mission orbiting the planet aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
Shatner, who is famed for his role as Captain Kirk in the 1960s sci-fi series, and newly minted astronauts Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, ventured 351,186 feet above Earth’s surface where they spent three minutes in weightlessness.
They were captured floating weightlessly in wonder and excitement as they looked down on Earth.
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William Shatner, 90, who is famed for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, is now the oldest person in space
Shatner and crew were captured floating weightlessly in wonder and excitement as they looked down on Earth
Shatner’s younger crewmates took turns looking out the window upside down
Shatner is captured saying ‘no description can equal this,’ while looking outside a window at the amazing view of Earth
A new clip of the epic journey shows Shatner and crew adjust to their new conditions, with Shatner seemingly taken aback by being weightless and repeating ‘oh, Jesus’ while his fellow crew members played around with floating toys.
Eventually Shatner adjusts and is heard laughing joyfully and says ‘no description can equal this,’ while looking outside a window at the amazing view of Earth.
His crewmates seem just as overjoyed, giggling and repeating ‘this is nuts!’ and ‘holy hell!’ while Shatner just looks at them with a look of astonishment, uttering ‘oh wow.’
While his younger crewmates took turns looking out the window upside down, the 90-year-old Shatner pulled his face as close to the window as possible to soak in the once-in-a-lifetime few.
NS18 took off at 10:49am ET, but was back on the ground by 10:59am ET and although the trip lasted for just 10 minutes and 17 seconds, the crew will likely remember it for a lifetime. Picture (L-R) is Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations and a former NASA flight controller and engineer; Chris Boshuizen, the co-founder of satellite company Planet Labs and a former space mission architect for NASA; and Glen de Vries
During a live TV interview with a CNN reporter on the landing pad, Shatner said he felt his trip was more than tourism and a more meaningful experience. ‘Everyone needs to have the philosophical understanding of what we’re doing to Earth,’ he said
‘I wish I had broken the world record in the 10-yard dash, but unfortunately it was how old I was,’ Shatner said on the landing pad the press briefing, responding to a question from a BBC reporter on how it felt to be the oldest person to go to space
Shatner revealed the team named their four-man club The Snake Bites, because when you are bit by a snake ‘you raise your arm because it keeps the blood from your heart.’ Pictured is the crew all raising their arm upon Shatners request
Once Shatner, who is now the oldest person to go to space, made it back to terra firma he came back with a message: ‘What we’re looking down upon is Mother Earth and it needs protecting in the world needs to see this’.
‘That point of view is you’re looking down on the earth and looking up into space but you’re also looking up at the future and looking down at the past,’ he said during a post-flight press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
NS18 took off at 10:49am ET, but was back on the ground by 10:59am ET and although the trip lasted for just 10 minutes and 17 seconds, the crew will likely remember it for a lifetime.
de Vries, who paid for a seat inside the capsule, said the crew ‘had a moment of camaraderie’ when they reached space – Blue Origin has not disclosed the cost of the ticket.
‘We actually just put our hands together,’ he said.
Powers chimed in saying: ‘We wanted to memorialize being together, there.’
‘And then we enjoyed the view as much as we can,’ de Vries said in response.
Blue Origin Boss Jeff Bezos stood proudly from the sideline, watching the four new astronauts share their out of this world experience during the short briefing.
Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and also a paying customer, described what it was like to ride with the famous Captain Kirk: ‘You know, all of us have seen ‘Star Trek,’ of course, and and many of the other great works that Bill has done. But for many people around the world, ‘Star Trek’ represented a future that we could hope, for a peaceful future for the human race and I can’t think of a better ambassador for that message than Mr. Shatner and it’s an absolute thrill.’
Shatner and crew were welcomed home by Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos.
Shatner shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966. Left is Shatner, along with Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock
As a shaky Shatner emerged from the capsule, he instantly wrapped his arms around Bezos. The actor said he was struck by the vulnerability of Earth and the relative sliver of its atmosphere.
‘Everybody in the world needs to do this,’ he said. ‘To see the blue color whip by and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing. The covering of blue, this sheath, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around, we say, ‘Oh, that’s blue sky.’ And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.’
‘As you look down, there’s your blue down there with the black up there. There is Mother Earth and comfort and there is — is there death? I don’t know. Is that the way death is?’
‘I don’t know. Was that death? Is that the way death is?’
Breaking into tears, Shatner then told Bezos: ‘I’m so filled with emotion with what just happened. I hope I never recover from this.’
‘It’s so much larger than me and life, and it hasn’t got anything to do with the little green hand or the little blue orb.
The New Shephard will travel beyond the 100km (62 mile) Karman line, defined internationally as the ‘edge of space’, where the crew will experience weightless for a few minutes before parachuting in the capsule back to the Texas desert
Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos welcomed home four new astronauts on Wednesday morning, with Shatner earning the title of oldest person ever to go to space
Bezos spent much of the day leading up to this moment -specifically being the first to embrace each one post flight
‘I’m so filled with emotion with what just happened,’ Shatner said to Bezos on the ground, breaking into tears. ‘I hope I never recover from this,’ he added. The crew was welcomed back by their family and friends, and enjoyed champagne showers to celebrate. Shatner appeared to still be in awe of what he just witnessed, still even minutes after putting his boots back on Earth
The capsule landed less than 11 minutes after the rocket took off at 10:49am ET from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Van Horn Texas.
The crew was met by family and friends when they put their boots back on the ground, and enjoyed champagne showers to celebrate.
‘You have done something,’ an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos. ‘What you have given me is the most profound experience. Unbelievable.’
As the actor merged science fiction with reality with his historic space flight, he said that going from the blue sky to the blackness of space was a moving experience that made him wonder, ‘Is that the way death is?’
The New Shepard space capsule made its descent back to Earth over West Texas after the 10 minute and 17 second flight
Passengers are subjected to nearly 6 G’s, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, as the capsule returns to Earth. Shatner added that the the return to Earth was more jolting than his training led him to expect and made him wonder whether he was going to make it home alive
‘Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth!’ Bezos said as he opened the hatch of the New Shepard capsule, named for first American in space, Alan Shepard
‘It was so moving. This experience is something unbelievable. My stomach went up. And what you see down there is light. It has to do with the emotion and the suddenness of life and death,’ he said.
WHAT IS THE BLUE ORIGIN ASTRONAUT EXPERIENCE?
The four ‘astronauts’ piled inside a Rivian truck to the launch tower 45 minutes before lift-off.
The crew then climbed the tower, rang a bell that hangs at one end of the crossing and were strapped into the fully autonomous 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket.
New Shepard took off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in the west Texas town of Van Horn and embarked on the epic journey to the edge of space.
The rocket fired its engines and hovered for a few minutes, allowing the capsule to separate – sending the crew into a weightless freefall.
New Shepard returned to the ground, landed on the pad in Van Horne where it will be used again.
After three minutes of weightlessness, the crew capsule gradually returned to Earth, slowed down by parachutes and landing on cushioned air bags.
Under Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) guidelines, they won’t technically be astronauts, but the word isn’t protected, so can call themselves Blue Origin astronauts, or tourist astronauts.
Shatner added that the the return to Earth was more jolting than his training led him to expect and made him wonder whether he was going to make it home alive.
‘Everything is much more powerful,’ he said. ‘Bang, this thing hits. That wasn’t anything like the simulator. … Am I going to be able to survive the G-forces? Am I going to be able to survive it?’
Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record – set by Wally Funk, 82, on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July – by eight years.
The trip to the final frontier made the Star Trek star realize the ‘vulnerability’ of our own planet.
‘This air, which is keeping us alive. It’s so thin. It’s thinner than your skin. It’s a sliver. It’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe,’ he continued. ‘This air — Mars doesn’t have it.’
Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew met all the medical and physical requirements, including the ability to hustle up and down several flights of steps at the launch tower. Passengers are subjected to nearly 6 G’s, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, as the capsule returns to Earth.
Bezos is a huge ‘Star Trek’ fan – the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later ‘Star Trek’ movies – and Shatner rode free as his invited guest.
Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise boldly go where no actor has gone before.
Shatner’s achievement caused worlds to collide, or at least permitting parallel universes to coexist – the utopian spacefaring vision of ‘Star Trek’ and the evolving, increasingly commercial spot that space holds in the American psyche.
‘This is a pinch-me moment for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go to space,’ Blue Origin launch commentator Jacki Cortese said at lift off said before liftoff. She said she, like so many others, was drawn to the space business by shows like ‘Star Trek.’
The Blue Origin founder also saw the crew through much of today’s pre-flight events: from driving them to the launch tower to greeting each upon post flight.
The crew launched aboard Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket from the company’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas at 10:49am ET.
‘Ladies and gentleman it is time to launch this rocket. Godspeed New Shepard,’ Cortese said at lift off.
The four members soared more 65 miles above Earth’s surface within a little over three minutes of the rocket launching.
‘Ladies and gentleman it is time to launch this rocket. Godspeed New Shepard,’ Blue Origin launch commentator Jacki Cortese said at lift off
The crew soared more than 350,000 feet above the space within a little over three minutes of the rocket launching
Blue Origin’s rocket took off at 10:49am ET from the company’s Launch Site One facility in Van Horn, Texas
‘Welcome to space,’ Cortese said from the ground.
The livestream showed the white capsule hanging in the darkness of space, while the four members float in zero-gravity for three minutes.
‘That was unlike anything they described,’ Shatner could be heard saying on the flight livestream just before landing.
The capsule then begun its journey back to Earth, with three parachutes deploying to guide the craft for a soft landing in the Texas desert.
The entire trip lasted just 10 minutes and 17 seconds, but it seems the crew will remember the experience for a lifetime.
Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record – set by Wally Funk, 82, on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July – by eight years
William Shatner , 90, is one-step closer to earning the the title of oldest person in space – he and three others are set to launch 65 miles above Earth’s surface Wednesday morning. The crew is inside the capsule, waiting to take off
All wearing blue flight suits with the company’s name in white letters on one sleeve, the team climbed into white capsule after a send off from Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos who also drove them to the launch tower and closed the hatch with just minutes left before launch
Shatner and his crewmates, dressed in their striking blue flight suits, were not required to wear helmets, with Blue Origin saying it wanted its passengers to have an unencumbered view of space.
All four members received a special challenge coin shortly after arriving at the training center earlier this morning.
The coin represents belonging and the achievement of something great and is only awarded to astronauts who passed training and are set to fly on a spacecraft.
The team climbed the tower about 30 minutes before launch and each rung a hanging silver bell before walking through a tunnel on the way to the launch capsule, which says above it ‘light this candle.’
NASA sent best wishes ahead of the flight, tweeting: ‘You are, and always shall be, our friend.’
The crew climbed the tower about 30 minutes before launch, and each rung a hanging silver bell before walking through a tunnel on the way to the launch capsule, which says above it ‘light this candle.
And SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had a special message for William Shatner, honoring the actor who will become the oldest person in space.
Shatner going into space is ‘the most badass thing I think I’ve ever seen,’ said Joseph Barra, a bartender who helped cater the launch week festivities. ‘William Shatner is setting the bar for what a 90-year-old man can do.’
The flight comes as the space tourism industry finally takes off, with passengers joyriding aboard ships built and operated by some of the richest men in the world.
This is the second crewed flight conducted by the Jeff Bezos-owned company – the first took off on July 20 and Bezos himself was along for the ride.
However, Wednesday’s mission gained just as much attention as Shatner made a dream come true for millions who were inspired by the sci-fi television show.
The crew, which also includes Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, launched Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket at 10am ET from the company’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas
The giant rocket rolled out to the launch pad in the early morning hours and was erected on the launch pad where it sits waiting patiently to shoot off into space
As an actor, Shatner was synonymous with space voyages. During the opening credits of each episode of the series, he called space ‘the final frontier’ and promised ‘to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.’
Shatner said there is both irony and symmetry to his space trip, having played a space explorer for decades and now actually becoming one.
‘Having played the role of Captain Kirk everybody assigns the knowledge that a futuristic astronaut would have, but I’ve always been consumed with curiosity and it is the adventure I feel so good doing,’ Shatner said in a video shared by Blue Origin Tuesday.
The crew was taken to the launch tower in a Rivian pickup truck, which was driven by Bezos
The crew waits patiently and with excitement as they head to Blue Origin’s launch tower
This is the second crewed flight conducted by the Jeff Bezos-owned company – the first took off on July 20 and Bezos himself was along for the ride
Pictured is the crew on their last day of training Tuesday. They are now gearing up to climb the launch tower and strap in the Blue Origin capsule to launch into space
MEET THE CREW
The 90-year-old Canadian actor shot to fame in the 1960s when he took on the role of James T Kirk in Star Trek the original series.
He will become the oldest person ever to travel to space when he launches.
Boshuizen is the co-founder of Planet Labs and partner at venture capital firm DCVC, and is a paying passenger.
He has a net worth of $30 million, and was Space Mission Architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center until 2012.
Glen de Vries
de Vries, who co-founded Medidata Solutions in 1999, said the spot on the New Shepard is a ‘dream come true.’
‘This is how innovation happens,’ he said in an interview ahead of launch.
Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, she spent years watching missions soar into space.
She joined Blue Origin in 2013 and oversees New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing and ground support infrastructure.
Shatner, also known for his role as lawyer Denny Crane in ‘Boston Legal,’ among many others, has spoken in the past about an at-times difficult relationship with Star Trek and its fan culture.
But in recent years, the actor has leaned into the fame brought about by his most famous role.
‘It looks like there’s a great deal of curiosity in this fictional character, Captain Kirk,’ he said in a video released by Blue Origin.
Shatner’s participation in the flight has helped generate publicity for Blue Origin as it competes against two billionaire-backed rivals – Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic- to attract customers willing to pay large sums to experience spaceflight.
The three other individuals strapped inside the capsule also have a strong connection with space.
Powers, who is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, has spent years watching missions soar into space and can now check a spaceflight off her bucket list.
‘I think I reached a certain age when I had given up on the idea that I would go to space,’ she said in a video clip.
‘In my role in mission flight operations, we were waiting to hear who the fourth astronaut was.’
Powers received a phone call from Michael Edmonds, a colleague, and told her: ‘On behalf of Jeff and the senior leadership we’d like you to represent team Blue and fly as the fourth astronaut.’
Blue Origin has not confirmed if Powers and Shatner paid for a seat, or the experience was gifted, but it is sure the other two passengers did.
Boshuizen, who has an estimated net worth approaching $30 million, was also the Space Mission Architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center between 2008 and 2012.
During this time he invented the Phonesat, which is a satellite built from a smartphone.
‘I’ve worked in space industry my entire life and I am excited the door is finally opening,’ Boshuizen said during a recent interview with Good Morning America (GMA).
The three other individuals strapped inside the capsule also have a strong connection with space
Cookies in the shape of the logos of Blue Origin (bottom) and ‘Star Trek’s’ Star Fleet Command are set on a table for the crew before the New Shepard NS-18 launches at 10am ET. Pictured right is the patch all four crew members are wearing for the mission
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had a special message for William Shatner, honoring the actor who will become the oldest person in space
‘I think we will look back at this day 50 years from now and go this was the year the human race started going to space.’
de Vries, co-founder of Medidata, said the spot on the New Shepard is a ‘dream come true.’
‘This is how innovation happens,’ he told GMA’s host TJ Holmes.
‘I lived in it healthcare and life sciences when you think about an industry being created and the opportunity for us to fuel that industry, as Chris was saying this is the beginning of a new time for space.
‘We are on the beginning of a curve that is just going to blast off.’
Boshuizen and Vries brings the company’s total number of paying customers to three, after Dutch teen Oliver Daemen became the first during the first flight on July 20.
Bezos is also sending several pieces of Star Trek artwork and ‘home-made toys’, that he created when he was nine, into space with actor William Shatner on the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.
The billionaire took to Instagram to announce the paper toys would be going up on the next rocket launch, adding he ‘made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends.’
William Shatner will take Amazon billionaire’s childhood mementoes into space TODAY
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is sending several pieces of Star Trek artwork and ‘home-made toys’, that he created when he was nine, into space with actor William Shatner on the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.
Bezos took to Instagram to announce the paper toys would be going up on the next rocket launch, adding he ‘made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends.’
His mother, Jacklyn Bezos, saved them for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding ‘please don’t judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!’.
Shatner, 90, shot to fame when he played the role of Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series created by Gene Rodenberry, where they used tricorders for scanning alien worlds, and flip-phone like communicators.
William Shatner will boldly go into space today on Blue Origin ‘s New Shepard rocket — taking with him artwork that Jeff Bezos made when he was nine to ‘play Star Trek’. Pictured: Mr Bezos’ art — with a hand-hand ‘tricorder’ device (top and bottom) and a communicator (middle)
The paper creations replicated the classic tricorder (left) and communicator (right) used by Shatner and others in the original Star Trek series
His mother, Jacklyn Bezos (pictured right), saved the home-made toys for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos (left) to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding ‘please don’t judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!’
He will become the oldest person to ever go into space, and will be joined on his mission by paying passengers Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice-president, Audrey Powers.
Originally set to depart yesterday, but delayed due to windy weather, the blast off from Launch Site One in Texas is now scheduled for 10am ET today.
The NS18 rocket will be moved to the launch pad 7.5 hours before lift-off, will take on propellant fuel three hours before and its crew 35 minutes prior to ignition.
Jeff Bezos was creating his own, home-made version of the Tricorder and communicator toys, such as the one held here by an action figure wearing Original Series uniforms
Its trajectory will take it more than 62 miles above the Earth in three minutes — passing the ‘Karman line’ that is the edge of space — where the crew will experience three minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.
The rocket booster segment will separate from the crew capsule two minutes and 45 seconds into the flight, to touch down on a pad around two miles from the launch site some seven minutes after launch.
Following the sub-orbital flight, the capsule will parachute to a landing in the Texas desert, some 10–12 minutes after they first blasted off.
Alongside Mr Bezos’ childhood art, Mr Shatner will also carry a postcard to inspire ‘the next generation’.
The crew is launching from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas
His mother saved them for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding ‘please don’t judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!’
One Tuesday, lead flight director, Nick Patrick, said that the crew completed their first day of training on Sunday. They also spent yesterday doing launch training.
‘The training itself was designed to do three things for our astronauts,’ Patrick said during a video interview.
‘The first thing is it’s designed to train them on the safety systems that we have onboard the crew capsule and the expected responses from the crew if we were to have an emergency.’
The second is to prepare the crew for the unexpected aspects of spaceflight such as strange noises, bumps and accelerations, Patrick explained.
The third part of training teaches the crew how to behave in zero-gravity inside the cabin without colliding with their flight mates, he continued.
‘Today’s crew represented both dreamers and builders. We had the honor of flying our very own Audrey Powers, Vice President of New Shepard Operations, who fulfilled a lifelong dream to go to space and has been an integral part of building New Shepard,’ Blue Origin shared in a statement.
‘Our two customers, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries, have built their own successful ventures and have now realized their own dreams of space travel.’
‘And, as everyone knows, William Shatner has played an important role in describing and imagining the wonders of universe and inspired many of us to pursue a career in the space industry,’ said Bob Smith, CEO Blue Origin. ‘This flight was another step forward in flying astronauts safely and often. It’s an incredible team and we are just getting started.’
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.
The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.
Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.
SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station.
SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas.
Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane.
The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.
The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.
Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9.
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