HomeScience & TechnologyHow dangerous is Jeff Bezos' journey into space

How dangerous is Jeff Bezos' journey into space

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has made the brave decision to take an 11-minute journey into space.

Jeff Bezos space

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The space company he founded, the Blue Origin has spent most of the last decade designing the rocket New shepard, who has passed a series of successful tests.

However, what Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos' brother and winner of an online competition, will do will be the first flight of New Shepard, a fully autonomous rocket and spacecraft system designed to take ticket holders to a short walk to space.

But the project is certainly not so safe.

What the Bezos brothers will actually do is get out of our atmosphere and come back immediately, in about 11 minutes.

Suborbital flights are very different from the orbital flights that most of us have in mind when we think of space flights. Blue Origin New Shepard flights will be short, although they will travel more than 62 miles above the Earth, which is considered to be the end of space.

Orbital rockets must gather enough power to reach at least 17.000 miles per hour, or what is known as orbital velocity, essentially giving the spacecraft enough energy to keep moving around the Earth, instead of returning immediately due to gravity.

Suborbital flights require much less power and speed. This means less time for the rocket to burn, lower temperatures burning outside the spacecraft, less force and compression on the spacecraft, and generally fewer chances of something going wrong.

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The New Shepard develops about three times the speed of sound (2.300 miles per hour) to get out of the atmosphere. The crew capsule will then separate from the rocket at the top of the orbit and continue to climb until it hovers at the top of the flight, giving passengers a few minutes of zero gravity. It will then return to the ground.

Jeff Bezos space

The Blue Origin New Origin Shepard capsule, which is fully autonomous and does not require a pilot, has never had an accident on 15 test flights. But this does not mean that the risk is zero.

Because such flights do not require so much speed or the intense process of trying to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at incredible speeds, they are considered much less dangerous than orbital flights.

However, high speeds and high altitudes are accompanied by inherent dangers and even small errors can have major consequences.

Earth's atmosphere is generally not considered sustainable over 50.000 feet without a space suit, and Jeff Bezos will travel up to 350.000 feet. But the capsule in which he travels will be under pressure, so he does not need a special suit to keep him safe and will have access to an oxygen mask if the cabin loses pressure. The spacecraft is also equipped with a friction system designed to remove the New Shepard capsule and passengers away from the rocket in the event of an emergency. There are also backup safety features that help the capsule land gently, even if some of its parachutes do not open.

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Of course there is no way to guarantee absolute safety in the event of a New Shepard malfunction.

Even though Suborbital flights, which are less risky than orbital ones, can be deadly.

One of its space planes Virgin Galactic for example, it was dismantled in 2014 when one of the vehicle's compressors prematurely used the wing system designed to keep the boat stable as it made its descent. The added traction on the plane broke it to pieces, killing one of the pilots.

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin did not experience similar tragic accidents during its test phase, although there is no guarantee that a normal flight will not have problems.

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