The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reportedly granted Blue Origin a license to carry humans into space ahead of the New Shepard spacecraft’s first crewed flight.
Blue Origin’s license to carry humans into space is valid through August 2021, the FAA told Reuters. The space tourism company had to confirm its launch system’s “hardware and software worked safely during a test flight”.
Blue Origin, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, aims to fly its first passengers to the edge of space on July 20, 2021. Bezos and his brother Mark, veteran aviator Wally Funk, and an auction winner whose identity is yet to be disclosed will be on board the first Blue Origin’s crewed flight to space.
#NewShepard is go for launch on July 20 for #NSFirstHumanFlight. This is the 16th flight and first with astronauts on board. Watch live at https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr. Coverage starts at 6:30 am CDT / 11:30 UTC. pic.twitter.com/hYv68UlCqm— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 12, 2021
The flight will take place on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft at the Launch Site One in a remote location of the West Texas desert, the United States. The spacecraft was designed as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism and is capable of carrying six passengers onboard, reaching more than 100 kilometers above Earth.
Once the first space tourism trip is completed, Blue Origin will reportedly conduct a few further flights to space throughout 2021.
Branson beats Bezos in space tourism race
On July 11, 2021, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity successfully carried a crew of mission specialists as well as Richard Branson to the edge of space ‒ nine days earlier than its space tourism rival Bezos’ Blue Origin.
“There are no words to describe the feeling. This is space travel. This is a dream turned reality,” Branson wrote on a social media post on July 12, 2021.
The US Federal Aviation Administration gave Virgin (VAH) the green light to take paying customers into space in late June 2021. The company plans to make two more test flights before commencing commercial service in 2022.