Digital Desk, New Delhi. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos returned to Earth on Tuesday after traveling in space. Bezos was accompanied by his brother Mark, 82-year-old Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Damon. The New Shepard rocket of Bezos’ space company Blue Origin took off from the desert of West Texas at 6:42 pm Indian time. For this, all the passengers got on-board 45 minutes before the launch. After a flight of about 3 minutes, Bezos’s capsule separated from the New Shepard rocket and proceeded into space. After flying for 4 minutes he crossed 100 km up ie Carman line. During this the passengers felt weightlessness. With this the capsule began to return to the ground. After an 11-minute flight, the capsule parachuted down into the desert. During this, the rocket, which was separated in the first stage, also returned to Earth.
Exactly 52 years ago today, in 1969, Astronauts Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went into space. That is why he had chosen this day for this mission. The New Shepard capsule has 6 seats. Although there were only 4 people in it. Bezos wants to send people into space through this. Earlier, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, traveled to space. In such a situation, today we are going to tell you about the new space race.
The first space race ended on July 17, 1975
July 17, 1975. The United States and the Soviet Union sent the first joint space mission. Under the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the spacecraft of both countries were docked together in orbit. Over the course of two days, NASA and Soviet astronauts conducted several scientific experiments. This officially marked the end of the Space Race between the US and the Soviet Union that began with the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Then came the 2000s and a new race started… not between countries but between private players. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos and British entrepreneur Richard Branson among the rich.
Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson have a net worth of $400 billion, which is roughly the size of Ireland’s GDP. The three billionaires have invested a large part of their wealth to fulfill their space travel dreams, which has given birth to a modern space race. The established space companies of all three billionaires, however, have slightly different goals. However, these three are not the only players in this game. Hundreds of such space startups have started in the world, which are focusing on everything from satellite technology to hotels in orbit.
At the beginning of this Modern Day race, people did not have much interest. But when Jeff Bezos announced on June 10, 2021 that he would go to space on the day of Apollo-11’s landing… then the eyes of the whole world were fixed on it. But before Jeff Bezos made history by traveling in space… Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson achieved this feat by going to outer space on July 11, 2021. But which billionaire is really winning this so-called Space Race? It all depends on how you look at it.
Elon Musk founded his company SpaceX in 2002. Musk’s dream is to take people to the Moon and Mars. Musk launched his first rocket Falcon 1 in 2006. This was followed by a big success in 2009. Musk has launched the world’s first reusable rocket, the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 is a reusable two-stage rocket. It is designed to carry people and payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. The Falcon 9 has reduced the launch cost to a great extent.
Musk’s third rocket is the Falcon Heavy. It was first launched in the year 2018. This rocket is the world’s most powerful operational rocket. It has been designed in such a way that it can carry a load of about 64 metric tons in orbit. It can lift more than twice as much payload as Boeing’s Delta IV Heavy rocket at a third of the cost. The Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores, whose 27 Merlin engines together… generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at lift-off, the equivalent of approximately eighteen 747 aircraft.
SpaceX has also developed the Dragon spacecraft, which can carry up to seven passengers into space and bring them back. In 2020, this spacecraft first took Astronaut Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station. It is the only spacecraft currently in flight that is capable of bringing cargo back to Earth in significant amounts. It is also the first private space craft that takes humans to the space station. With this, Musk has contracted with NASA. Prior to Musk’s contract, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft was being used to take astronauts to and back to the International Space Station. SpaceX has also built a constellation of Internet-beaming satellites.
SpaceX has also announced the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy’s successor Super Heavy-Starship System. It is designed in such a way that it can carry both people and cargo into the orbit of Earth, Moon, Mars and beyond. The Starship will be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle ever developed, with the capability to carry over 100 metric tons into Earth orbit. The Starship spacecraft and the super heavy rocket together form a reusable transportation system capable of refueling in orbit. These systems can also refuel themselves with the resources of natural H2O and CO2 present on the surface of Mars.
Talking about the process of sending humans to Mars, then Starship will be launched with super heavy booster. The booster will then detach and return to Earth. When the starship reaches Earth’s orbit, a refilling tanker will be launched from Earth. The tanker will dock with the starship and return to Earth after refilling. Once the Starship is fully refueled, it will begin its journey from Earth’s orbit to Mars.
The Starship will enter the Martian atmosphere at a speed of 7.5 kilometers per second and then slow down. The heat shield of this vehicle is designed for multiple entry. After landing on Mars, the starship will be refueled with the help of H20 and CO2 present on the planet. After refueling the starship will return to Earth.
Jeff Bezos founded his space company Blue Origin in 2000, 6 years after starting Amazon. For years this company worked in complete secrecy. But now its goals are clear. Bezos, the world’s richest person, wants to send people to live and work in orbit by setting up space colonies so that human life can be extended if there is an energy crisis on Earth. Bezos started Blue Origin to develop affordable rocket and spacecraft technology needed for extra-terrestrial housing. The company has also prepared a plan for a lunar lander. Blue Origin plans to establish a moon base with NASA and other companies.
New Shepard – Blue Origin’s fully autonomous, reusable, suborbital rocket. This was the initial step towards making the company’s moon lander technology. It helped the company learn how to safely land a small spacecraft on the Moon. But the company has also involved its New Shepard vehicle in a suborbital space tourism business. On 20 July 2021, Bezos and three other astronauts started by traveling in space.
Blue Origin is also working on its New Glenn rocket. It is named after Astronaut John Glenn. New Glenn is a single configuration heavy lift launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads into regular Earth orbit and beyond. The New Glenn is a reusable first stage rocket designed for 25 missions. This rocket will build a road to space. The 7-metre fairing of the New Glenn has 2 times more usable volume than any existing launch vehicle. New Glenn is capable of launching a payload of over 13 MT into Geostationary Transfer Orbit and a payload of 45 MT into Lower Earth Orbit.
Blue Origin is also working on its Moon lander Blue Moon. Blue Moon is a flexible lander that can deliver small, medium and large payloads to the lunar surface. Whether cargo or crew, its ability to precision and soft-land will enable continued human presence on the Moon. The cargo lander variant of this spacecraft is designed to provide low-cost delivery of a variety of payloads on the lunar surface. Depending on the configuration and mission, it will be able to launch multiple metric tons of payloads from large rovers, habitats and ascent stages to the Moon.
Jeff Bezos has also announced plans to build a constellation of Internet-beaming satellites similar to SpaceX’s Starlink. This is the reason why Elon Musk has been accusing Jeff Bezos of being a copycat many times.
Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004 by British entrepreneur Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic also has a similar business plan to Blue Origin’s New Shepard… to take customers to space. Virgin Galactic’s technology is quite different. Blue Origin and SpaceX launch automated capsules from the ground using reusable rockets. In contrast, Virgin Galactic uses a winged spaceship that is launched from the belly of an airplane. This requires a pair of pilots.
However, Virgin Galactic has faced many major obstacles to reach this point. In 2014, a co-pilot was killed in a tragic accident during the test flight of the company’s SpaceShipTwo. Branson has also faced many technical difficulties. Still, in the Branson vs Bezos fight, Branson won. Branson traveled to space on July 11 with 5 crew members, including India’s daughter Sirisha, in the VSS Unity spaceship. With this, the company has crossed the biggest stage of starting space tourism.
Branson has also sent a rocket into orbit. This requires far more speed and rocket power than a sub-orbital trip. Virgin Orbit, which departed from Branson’s Virgin Galactic in 2017, carried the first batch of satellites into orbit in January. It was flown from Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One. However, it is not as powerful as Musk’s Falcon 9 and Bezos’ Glenn rocket. Virgin Galactic also has some bold long-term visions, including building a suborbital, supersonic jet that can shuttle people between cities at breakneck speeds.
To sum up this modern day space race, all three billionaires have similar but different extraterrestrial ambitions. Their goal is to deliver satellites, people and cargo into space at a lower cost and faster, which was not possible in previous decades. However, who is ahead in this race can be gauged from the fact that neither Branson nor Bezos’s companies have so far managed to take astronauts to Earth’s orbit. Both Bezos and Branson have only traveled to the edge of space. Musk, on the other hand, has not traveled to space himself, but has built rockets of much more advanced technology than Bezos and Branson. Musk’s dream is to take people to Mars.