Richard Branson, 71, finally realized his childhood dream of space.
Branson, British billionaire, founder of Virgin Group, Virgin Galactic, a subsidiary of Virgin Galactic, is committed to commercializing manned suborbital flights.
At 23:25 Beijing time tonight, the “Spacecraft II” suborbital vehicle developed by Virgin Galactic was carried by the parent aircraft “White Knight II” to an altitude of 14,000 meters. An altitude of 86 kilometers.
Unlike previous flight tests, today’s “Spaceship II” was full of four passengers for the first time in addition to two pilots. Branson was one of them. After experiencing weightlessness for a few minutes and enjoying the short-lived space scenery, he fell back to the earth’s atmosphere with the Spaceship II, and landed on the runway of the Spaceport in New Mexico, USA.
According to American standards, Branson, who has just returned from an altitude of more than 80 kilometers, can be regarded as a new astronaut.
In this regard, Jeff Bezos has quite a criticism.
Bezos, American billionaire, richest man in the world, founder of Amazon.com. The Blue Origin company he founded is a direct competitor of Virgin Galactic in the field of manned suborbital flight.
Bezos and Blue Origin’s “New Shepard” Rocket | Blue Origin
Unlike Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered aircraft for horizontal take-off and horizontal landing, the suborbital manned vehicle “New Shepard” developed by Blue Origin is more like a traditional rocket, erected on the launcher and ignited vertically, and the top The manned cabin was pushed up to high altitude, then separated from the manned cabin, and fell back to the landing field vertically by reverse thrust.
The separated manned cabin will continue to ascend under inertia, reaching an altitude of more than 100 kilometers, and then free fall and fall back into the earth’s atmosphere. Passengers in the cabin can experience weightlessness in space for several minutes and enjoy the scenery through huge portholes. In the end, the manned cabin deployed its parachute and fell back to the ground.
An altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level, called the Carmen Line, is the boundary line between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space recognized by the International Aviation Federation. This is also the reason why Blue Origin designed this flying height- only after passing the Carmen line, can it be considered as entering space in all senses.
Virgin Galactic’s “Spacecraft II” flying altitude of no more than 90 kilometers is obviously not far from the Carmen line. Just a few days ago, Blue Origin officially released a chart that publicly dissed Virgin Galactic as a competitor. It can be said to be very lacklustre.
Having said that, it’s no wonder Bezos resents Branson.
In April this year, “New Shepard” successfully completed the 15th unmanned test flight. Bezos subsequently announced that it would launch the first manned launch on July 20 and publicly auction one seat to participate in the flight.
In June, Bezos once again increased the weight, high-profile proclaiming that he himself (along with his brother) will take the first manned “New Shepard” to space.
Subsequently, the seat at the auction was auctioned away by a mysterious figure at a high price of 28 million U.S. dollars. At this price, in the early years, you can buy a ticket for the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and go to the International Space Station for a week.
For a time, Bezos can be said to be infinitely beautiful and in the limelight.
Who knows, there was a Branson halfway through!
On July 1st, Branson suddenly announced that he would also take his own aircraft to space, even before Bezos went to the sky. As soon as the voice fell, Virgin Galactic’s stock soared nearly 20%.
And just today, Branson has completed his space journey first. What will Bezos feel at this moment…
In fact, the space flight that made the two rich men blushing with a thick neck is only a suborbital flight, and it cannot be compared with the manned spaceflight that has actually entered orbit.
In terms of technical difficulty, manned earth orbital flight is far more difficult than manned earth suborbital flight:
1. Suborbital flight only needs to overcome the earth’s gravitational potential energy and reach an altitude of 80-100 kilometers, while orbital flight not only needs to reach an altitude of 400 kilometers, but also needs to accelerate laterally to the first cosmic speed of 7.9 kilometers/sec. The required speed increment is much larger than that of suborbital flight.
2. When returning to the earth, suborbital flight only requires free fall, and then it can land safely by gliding or parachute, and when returning to the ground, orbital flight needs to use the earth’s atmosphere to slow down the first cosmic speed. More complete thermal protection system.
3. The duration of a manned orbital flight generally lasts for several days, which is much longer than just a few minutes for a suborbital flight, and requires more advanced environmental control and life support technologies. These technologies require a lot of resources, continuous trial and error, and continuous research and development to achieve.
However, for ordinary people like us, if we want to realize our “space dream”, suborbital flight is probably more suitable.
First, the weightless environment in space is quite different from the gravity environment on the ground. Human beings have lived on the ground for hundreds of thousands of years, and their bodies have adapted to the gravity environment on the ground. If they enter the weightless environment for a long time, they may cause serious physical discomfort, that is, space motion sickness.
Even for professional astronauts who were born as pilots and received long-term training, half of them showed symptoms of space motion sickness when entering space. For us ordinary people, a few minutes of weightlessness experience is safer.
Secondly, the cost of space passengers flying in orbit on the earth does not only lie in the “ferry ticket” for the round trip between the earth and the earth, but also in the preliminary work done to realize the “round trip” between the earth and the earth. In addition to the necessary training and physical examinations for “space motion sickness”, it also includes on-orbit life training.
One of the simplest examples is going to the toilet. In order to ensure that the dirt does not float around in the weightless spacecraft, space passengers need to relearn how to use the space toilet. The special space environment will make going to the toilet, an ordinary to no more usual thing, also a challenge.
A lot of training work will not only greatly increase the cost of ferry tickets, but also make it difficult for orbital flight to be a “just-go trip”. The weightlessness of suborbital flight lasts for a short time, which is similar to the experience of flying in an airplane. It is more suitable for ordinary people in terms of time cost and money cost.
Finally, the duration of suborbital flight is shorter, the technical requirements are lower, and the aircraft preparation cycle is also shorter. Compared with the test and launch cycle of manned rockets, which can take several weeks or even months, if the suborbital vehicle is properly dispatched, it can completely fly several days or even once a day.
The shortened flight cycle means that more tourists can be received, and the cost will be further diluted. It can be said that suborbital flight will be the most suitable way for us ordinary people to experience space for a long time in the future.
It is precisely because of the extensive sightseeing demand and potential profitability that manned suborbital flights have that Branson and Bezos made arrangements early and set about designing their respective suborbital vehicles. Now, as the Virgin Galactic “Spacecraft II” and the Blue Origin “New Shepard” rockets have matured day by day, the red sea of suborbital space tourism has opened up, and everything is ready.
Whether they realize their dreams or steal the limelight, as billionaires, Branson and Bezos took personal risks and participated in the first passenger flight of a suborbital vehicle. The real purpose was nothing more than to serve their respective company platforms. Seize more potential customers and realize profit through manned suborbital flight.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/branson-went-to-the-sky-but-the-billionaire-is-still-14-kilometers-from-space/
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