When the first space tourists to ride one of Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rockets zoom to the edge of space for a brief burst of weightlessness, they'll have the chance to appreciate the curvature of the Earth in a way no astronaut, cosmonaut, or taikonaut before them has. Because the New Shepard, as Blue Origin's spaceship is called, will have the biggest windows of any vessel to ever break through the Karmann Line that separates Earth from the final frontier.
Each of the six passengers flying aboard the New Shepard will have his or her own picture window measuring almost seven square feet, Blue Origin's Ariane Cornell told Aviation Week, giving everyone an unparalleled view during the flight.
And those paying customers will have plenty of time to enjoy the view—at least, by entry-level space tourism standards. Each Blue Origin tourism flight will give riders roughly four minutes of zero-g fun, starting when the passenger compartment detaches from the rocket booster and stretching until it reenters the atmosphere. More than enough time for passengers to pop open their harnesses and float around in the capsule.
“We’re going to let you unbuckle,” Cornell said. “You’re going to turn your somersaults; you’re going to gaze out of these gorgeous windows."
And customers could begin gazing and somersaulting—as well as the rush of liftoff and the 5g of reentry—as soon as 2018, Bezos said during a recent media event. As for how much it'll cost, well, Bezos said that largely depends on how many people want to go. The more customers there are, the more the rocket can fly—and the cheaper the trip will become. (For comparison, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin's competitor in the space tourism market, charges $250,000 per flight.)
"The real question is what will the customer demand be," Bezos said, according to AW. "You can do research and surveys and ask people if they want to go, but it’s really hard to know."