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Four good reasons to attend the launch of New Shepard tomorrow

On July 20 at 1:30 p.m., Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen will depart for space; here are some great reasons to follow a historic launch in many ways.

‘Cause the richest man in the world will sit in a missile

Space missions are always a big deal. Starting with the ships themselves: these true jewels of technology concentrate hundreds of millions of euros of R&D, materials, and technical expertise. But even with these exorbitant sums, it is not every day that a gigantic missile pointed straight at space embarks a cargo with more than 200 billion dollars of assets. A prospect which must give some cold sweats, but which also testifies to the absolute confidence that Bezos places in its space program. For the more picky, he will also become the first billionaire to venture into space since technically, Richard Branson did not exceed the symbolic line of 100km of altitude … what the troops of Blue Origin did not not deprived of calling back.

Because Wally Funk will make his childhood dream come true

Seasoned US Air Force pilot Wally Funk saw his dream of becoming an astronaut unfairly shattered. Credit: Wally Funk, Blue Origin

Among the three passengers who will accompany Jeff Bezos, there will be Wally Funk. For this 82-year-old veteran of the Mercury 13 program, deprived of her space dream following a appalling institutional injustice, this flight will be an opportunity to take part in the long-awaited journey. A prospect that seems as exciting as it is overwhelming for the former aviator; on the various videos posted by Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos himself, we see her regularly hugging the billionaire and bustling with excitement with every mention of the mission ahead.

Of course, there is a certain dose of skilfully orchestrated staging; but for her, it seems obvious that this trip will be charged with emotion, even more than for the other passengers. On this occasion, she will become the oldest space traveler. For the spectators, it will also be an opportunity to witness the realization of a more than deserved dream for this colorful character; as much to say that one can expect a few tears during the press conference.

Because the youngest of the astronauts will go down in history

© Oliver Daemen / Blue Origin

In addition to Wally Funk and the two Bezos brothers, it is an 18-year-old Dutch boy who will occupy the fourth and final seat. It benefited from the withdrawal of a mysterious buyer, who had won an auction at 28 million dollars; a combination of circumstances that will make him the youngest astronaut in history.

It is a record with a certain symbolic significance. Because one of the challenges of this new space race is that leaving Earth will become easier and easier. Ultimately, these trips will no longer be reserved for overtrained astronauts, but also for ordinary people. Oliver Daemen therefore becomes the symbol, in spite of himself, of this new generation of civilian travelers who will take the road to the stars in the years to come.

Because it is the first suborbital flight without a pilot and with a civilian crew

Never before an unmanned space vehicle did not carry a crew entirely made up of civilians. If all goes well, then this will be another great first. Because once space tourism is democratized, one can reasonably imagine that a large part of these systems will be automated. The launch of New Shepard will therefore be an opportunity to lay the foundations for these future trips, and to imagine what they could look like once the process has been standardized.

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