Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
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Watch this Space

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Have you ever felt the need for speed? Want to run away from your exams? Tired of carrying your friends in Fortnite? Have no fear, for soon you’ll be hurtling towards lower earth orbit at around 2,000mph with Texas in your rear view mirror.

For many, the idea of travelling into space seems like a fantasy. But, it’s not for the Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. He has a different plan. With the successful launch of the New Shepard Rocket on April 29th the billionaire’s spaceflight start-up, [Blue Origin, has estimated that manned rocket flights will be underway by 2019]. THAT’S BARE SOON!

one day we could be eating floating M&Ms in space whilst looking down on the Savannahs from which we emerged

Just in case you weren’t up to date, here are the details: Blue Origin plans on propelling space tourists 66 miles into the atmosphere, where they will experience 4 minutes of weightlessness and breath-taking views. Interestingly, the rocket that sends these absolute nutters through the Carmen Line (the official boundary of space), detaches and makes its way back down to the launch site where it lands and can be used again for subsequent flights in a similar fashion to Space X’s Falcon 9 rockets. Meanwhile the passengers eventually cruise back to their loved ones back on Earth. Three enormous parachutes open, slowing their speed down to 10mph. Just before touchdown, a final burst from the capsule booster cushions the landing and the passengers can now tell the tale of the journey.

The 8th test flight for Blue Origin, which occurred in their West Texas Launch Site, had one passenger- albeit not the traditional human being. In actual fact this brave soul was a test dummy who goes by the name of ‘Mannequin Skywalker’. The dummy was kitted out with sensors which would relay information back to mission control. Along with the test dummy, the capsule carried various experiments organised by both the German Space Agency and NASA. Additionally, a test package was also placed on-board to demonstrate that Wi-Fi communications are viable in sub orbit. (We wouldn’t want to be missing out on that sub orbit selfie would we now #spaced)

Blue origins launch. Source: wiki commons

By accommodating test packages on board their rocket, Blue Origin is simultaneously aiding technological advancement whilst paving a promising road for space tourism. It is no secret that funding for the space programmes has plummeted in the last decade. Governments now rely heavily on the private sector, and a piggy-back ride on New Shepard rockets will have NASA weak at the knees.

reusing rockets has perhaps become the industry’s biggest game changer

Missions like the ones carried out by Blue Origin have also underlined the successful use of reusable rockets. The idea can be traced back to 1980s where space shuttles would be propelled into orbit and then flown back to earth and landed on a runway. Nowadays, reusing rockets has perhaps become the industry’s biggest game changer for some time. The cost of these rockets are immense and the fact that we can now land them for reuse, not only makes space travel much more affordable, but also marks a technological breakthrough for mankind *cue shoulder pat*.

Space tourism often receives a sceptical response, but with the dream of sending civilians into space, great things can be achieved. If we take SpaceX as an example, many find it ludicrous that the company dreams of eventually sending humans to Mars. Even if a human population on Mars seems like something of a Sci-Fi movie, Elon Musk’s start-up has already placed multiple satellites into orbit, delivered payloads to the International Space Station and revolutionised the world of commercial space flight. Don’t be fooled. Dreams really do come true.

But let us dream even bigger, that one day we could be eating floating M&Ms in space whilst looking down on the Savannahs from which we emerged. It is time to ride the waves of our scientific advancement and galvanise a generation of dreamers. The tide of space travel is changing and we all stand to benefit.

Author: Ludovico Vermeir

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