Jeff Bezos gives a glimpse of "the astronaut experience," as his private spaceflight company, Blue Origin, releases the first-ever photos of its New Shepard crew capsule.
Blue Origin's New Shepard Capsule
According to Blue Origin's website, the New Shepard system is a fully reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing space vehicle.
"Our New Shepard flight-test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system. In parallel, we've been designing the capsule interior with an eye toward precision engineering, safety, and comfort," Bezos said in an email release.
Named after Alan Shepard, the first NASA astronaut to take a suborbital trip to space in 1961, the passenger capsule's interior is an ample 530 cubic feet — 10 times roomier than what Shepard had on his Mercury flight — and can accommodate up to six astronauts.
Check out some of the photos from Twitter.
— SpaceNews (@SpaceNews_Inc) March 29, 2017
Blue Origin unveiled a capsule to launch tourists into space, with what it says are the "largest windows in space" https://t.co/BRFE5rq78W pic.twitter.com/CIfar4wdEA — CNN International (@cnni) March 29, 2017
'Every Seat's A Window Seat'
"Every seat's a window seat," Bezos noted, "the largest windows ever in space."
Inside the vehicle, passengers will get the time of their life floating midair in a zero-gravity environment while enjoying unobstructed, out-of-this-world views of space.
New Shepard capsule boasts of the largest windows in spaceflight history. Transmitting 92 percent of visible light, each glass-like window is made of several layers of fracture-proof transparencies designed to reduce distortion and reflection.
Looking at the photos, one would notice a spherical console in the middle. Apparently, this is the New Shepard's escape motor.
Unlike Apollo 11's escape system set on a tower, New Shepard's escape motor is mounted underneath the crew capsule to push the capsule away from in the event of an exploding booster. This safety feature has been verified during an in-flight test by Blue Origin back in October 2016.
Customer Space Flights By 2018
The New Shepard rocket is still in its testing phase, launching and landing successfully for five times already. It's set to make its first human test flights by the end of this year and have commercial passengers on board by 2018.
As expected, the 10-minute astronaut experience atop the 60-foot-tall rocket doesn't come cheap. While Blue Origin has not yet divulged any detail on the ticket price, experts say that a seat at the more high-end version of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft could play somewhere along the lines of $100,000 to $200,000.
Space tourism is starting to become a thing these days with private spaceflight companies, such as Virgin Galactic and World View, as other potential players in the market.