BILLIONAIRE’S Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are both planning on heading to space this month.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spaceplane and Bezos’s Blue Origin New Shepard rocket and capsule look pretty different but they do have some similarities.
How do the VSS Unity spaceplane and the Blue Origin New Shepard compare?
The VSS Unity spaceplane is launched into suborbit by another plane[/caption]
Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson plans to enter space on his VSS Unity spaceplane this weekend on July 11.
The craft is lifted to altitude by a carrier aircraft called the VMS Eve.
After being in suborbital space for a few minutes, the VSS Unity lands back on Earth on a runway like a plane.
In comparison, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combo shoot from a launchpad into sub-orbit together before the capsule separates.
Bezos’s Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft has a detachable capsule that goes to space[/caption]
VSS Unity lands like a plane[/caption]
The rocket returns to the launchpad and the capsule spends a few minutes in space before falling back to Earth via parachute.
Both spacecrafts will allow passengers to experience a few minutes in weightless space.
The VSS Unity spaceplane requires two pilots and can have up to four passengers.
New Shepard lands via parachute[/caption]
The Blue Origin New Shepard rocket and capsule fly autonomously, which means they don’t need crew.
The capsule can fit up to six passengers.
Bezos plans to go to space in the capsule on July 20 with his brother and a guest who entered a charity bidding war for a ticket.
The top altitude for the VSS Unity is said to be around 293,000 feet.
The top altitude for New Shepard is said to be around 327,360 feet.
Both spaceship methods are reusable.
What is Virgin Galactic?
Here's what you need to know…
Intrepid explorers are lining up – and digging deep – to travel into space with Virgin Galactic.
British billionaire Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, initially predicted the maiden space flight would launch by 2009.
But the date has been repeatedly pushed back due to technical problems.
In 2016, the late Professor Stephen Hawking unveiled Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo craft, called VSS Unity, after the first SpaceShipTwo craft VSS Enterprise crashed during tests in 2014, killing one of its pilots.
A successful maiden flight finally took place in mid-December 2018.
If all goes to plan, space fans will be launched more than 50 miles above Earth – a point at which Nasa defines as outer space.
Passengers will ride aboard SpaceShipTwo, a spaceplane designed to carry six passengers and two pilots.
It is carried aloft by a large aeroplane before breaking away and zooming to an altitude of about 62 miles.
Passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before Unity fires up its engines and soars back to Earth, landing on a runway like a conventional aircraft.
With a hefty price tag of $250,000 (£175,000) a ticket, the 90-minute flight is being aimed at wealthy celebrities and thrillseekers.
Sir Richard has said that “ultimately” he would like to see the price fall as low as $40,000 (£30,700) over the next decade.
Virgin Galactic is up against fierce competition in the private space race from firms such as Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
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In other news, scientists have identified the place where aliens are most likely lurking in the Milky Way.
Aliens may have dropped life-detecting sensors onto Earth, according to a Harvard University professor.
And, China has successfully launched three astronauts into orbit to build its own space station.
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