The reusable US spacecraft New Shepard has taken off on a suborbital commercial flight with a crew of four space tourists, developer Blue Origin said.
The crew includes 90-year-old Canadian actor William Shatner, best known for his role as Captain of the starship Enterprise, James Kirk, in the Star Trek series and films, making him the oldest person ever to be in space. Also on board is Blue Origin's Vice President of Flights Audrey Powers , former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs Chris Boshuisen, and Vice President of the French company Dassault Systemes Glen de Vries .
The flight will last approximately 11 minutes. After vertical acceleration lasting 110 seconds, the descent vehicle will separate from the carrier, which will continue to climb by inertia to about 105 km, that is, just above the Karman line.
Karman's line is the height above sea level, which is conventionally taken as the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and space. According to the definition of the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI), the line is at an altitude of 100 km. In this regard, the Passengers of the capsule can claim the title of astronaut without making an orbital flight.
In total, the capsule with space tourists will stay at the highest point of the flight for about three minutes.
Then, after the descent, the capsule will make a soft landing using the parachute system. In the meantime, the launch vehicle will make an independent descent and vertical landing with the help of the main engine in the area of the launch pad.
The cost of the flight for space tourists to New Shepard is currently estimated at $ 500,000.
The reusable New Shepard system, created for commercial tourist flights to the edge of space, consists of a single-stage 18-meter launch vehicle and a descent capsule designed for six people. It is equipped with an emergency rescue system and parachutes.