Jeff Bezos announces he'll be on first human flight to space

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Blue Origin has been given regulatory approval to launch people into space – including founder Jeff Bezos. Next week’s mission will follow Virgin Galactic’s successful trip, which saw Sir Richard Branson reach space for the first time.

Virgin Galactic launched its billionaire founder to space on July 11, from Spaceport America.

It was the first time the company sent tourists to the edge of Earth.

Branson described the trip as a test for space tourism, and he expects to start delivering flights from next year.

Virgin Galactic originally planned for Branson to launch into space much later, but moved the mission forward to July 11, shortly after Blue Origin revealed its plan to send Bezos to space on July 20.

Bezos will jump into his New Shepard rocket in West Texas next week, as he enters into space.

Blue Origin’s flight license will be valid through to August, as the company aims to carry out a similar reconnaissance trip as Virgin Galactic.

The Amazon founder will be accompanied by his brother, an aviation pioneer, and a $28million auction winner.

However, there are a number of key differences between the Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights.

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Launch

Branson took off in an aeroplane-style vehicle, which was carried by a larger rocket.

At 50,000ft, the carrier plane – WhiteKnight – separated from the human-carrying SpaceShipTwo, which then climbed to the edge of space.

However, Bezos will climb into his New Shepard rocket, which is similar to a more common space rocket.

It’s a six-story tall suborbital launcher that’s designed for vertical takeoff.

Maximum altitude

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo reached a maximum altitude of 85km – the equivalent to 282,000ft, or 53 miles.

That’s also the exact altitude that both NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration consider to be space.

Blue Origin, however, aims to go a little further into space, aiming for the altitude that many countries consider to be space.

Bezos will reach a maximum altitude of about 66 miles, or 106km.

Landing

Branson slowly came back to down to the Earth’s surface, in a similar style to a normal aeroplane.

The SpaceShipTwo Unity vehicle folded in its tailbooms, and slowly glided back down to Spaceport America, in New Mexico.

Blue Origin’s descent is slightly different, however, with the rocket booster returning for a vertical landing.

The crew capsule will float back down to Earth, carried by parachutes.

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