Working rocket? Check. Slightly overexuberant CEO and founder? Check. Snazzy artistic images of capsule interior? Check check check.
Yes, Blue Origin – the company run by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – has revealed some new images of the capsule it will use to take paying customers to space as soon as next year. The capsule boasts huge windows and a clean and futuristic interior that sets it apart from other capsules that have flown before.
“Every seat’s a window seat,” Bezos said in an emailed update, adding they would be the “largest windows ever in space.”
Blue Origin, as you might remember, flew their reusable New Shepard rocket several times last year. Those flights were unmanned hops beyond the Karman Line 100 kilometers (62 miles) up, the official boundary of space.
The capsule looks pretty spacious. Blue Origin
In March last year, however, Bezos said they were hoping to launch their first test pilots this year, with paying customers coming in 2018. Not much has been revealed about the crew capsule so far, aside from some artistic mockups.
But based on these images, we can make some assumptions. First, with six seats there will be space for six people to fly. How many of these will be customers isn’t clear, but the sleek and simplistic design suggests the capsule will be largely autonomous – like SpaceX’s. This may mean only one or two “pilots” are needed for each 10-minute flight.
Each seat seems to be able to recline and swivel too, presumably getting passengers in a vertical launch position for liftoff, before letting them move about once in space. And they’ll be able to get out of their seats too, floating around in weightlessness for a few minutes before the capsule returns to Earth via parachute.
Passengers can get out of their seats and float around in space. Blue Origin
The seats also come with a small view screen to watch the launch from an exterior camera. It’s not clear yet how much money people will have to stump up to fly in the capsule, but it might be comparable to flights on Virgin Galactic, which currently sell for $250,000 a ticket.
Flying people on the New Shepard rocket is the first part of Blue Origin’s goals. They’re also working on a successor called New Glenn, which will be capable of taking satellites to orbit, expected to launch for the first time in 2020. Like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, this will have a reusable first stage that returns back to Earth.
In his email, Bezos said they would be showing off a physical mockup of the capsule at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on April 3 to 6, alongside the New Shepard booster that flew to space five times. So if you’re planning to attend, make sure you check it out to get a glimpse into the future of space tourism.
Seat cushion, perhaps? Blue Origin