Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk join the exclusive club of humans who have gone into space. Blue Origin ‘s NS-16 mission, the 16th launch of New Shepard, this time with a crew aboard the First Step capsule, was a success.

Totaling approximately 620 minutes, the rocket carried the First Step to about 100 km in height, surpassing the Kármán Line before autonomously returning, in full SpaceX style. The capsule stayed in microgravity for a few minutes before returning to Earth, slowed down by the parachutes that accompanied it until touchdown. A huge success for Blue Origin, paving the way even more for space tourism.

How to follow the Blue Origin live broadcast

The Blue Origin New Shepard launch will take place from a spaceport in Texas and is set for 3:00 PM Italian time. However, Jeff Bezos’s space race will be live on official social media and the website starting at 1:30 PM. Along with the American billionaire, his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen and the 80-year-old Wally Funk, a member of the Mercury 13 program, will fly. Daemen and Funk will be the youngest and oldest man to reach space, respectively.

Differences between VSS Unity and New Shepard

Bezos praised Branson after Virgin Galactic‘s success, but Blue Origin’s ads highlight the higher altitude reached by their mission. The Kármán Line defines space as 100 km, but VSS Unity only reached 86 km.

The New Shepard Crew Capsule will widely cross the same imaginary line that, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, represents the boundary between space and the Earth’s atmosphere. Other differences are summarized in an infographic launched on social media by Blue Origin, which also highlights the increased comfort of the spaceship, larger windows, an escape system, and a greater number of test launches (15 compared to 3).

How Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital launch works

Unlike the Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, the spaceship with crew will be taken into suborbital space by the New Shepard, named after Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut to fly in space. Like the SpaceX Falcon 9, it has an automatic reentry and landing system. This means that the rocket, after deploying the capsule, settles vertically for reentry into the atmosphere, finally landing on the landing pad. Once the capsule has spent the 4 minutes in suborbital space, it returns to Earth with the aid of parachutes that cushion the touchdown.

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