Jeffrey Kluger, Jared Isaac, Jeff Bezos Richard Branson discussed on TIME's Top Stories

TIME's Top Stories


Jeffrey kluger on september fifteenth if all goes according to plan jared isaac men. The billionaire ceo of shift for payments and three other private citizens will strap into a space x crew dragon spacecraft. All four seats paid for by isaac men and blast off for orbit on the mission dubbed inspiration. For three days later they'll return to earth. Unlike most of the rest of us they will have spent time off of the planet but will that earned then. The label of astronaut time was it was easy to recognize an astronaut. They were all test pilots. They wore silvery space suits and signature buzz cuts and they had perfect fly. Boy names like d.c. And gus and al and gordo that they were all white. Males was often overlooked in the fawning media coverage of the time but that changed happily if belatedly as women and people of color joined the core in later years now things are changing again and fast with the opening of the private space sector. All manner of people who don't write the word astronaut on the occupation line of their tax return are queuing up to fly blue origin and virgin galactic both of which launched high profile missions involving their respective founders. Jeff bezos richard branson earlier. This summer aim to begin regularly carrying paying customers on brief eleven minutes sub orbital flight soon and spacex is selling seats not just isaac men in his inspiration for crew. The company along with rival. Private firm axiom. Space is also selling tickets to the international space station. The iss beginning in january twenty twenty two time studios is producing a documentary series on the inspiration for mission. Civilians have flown into space. Before former senator bill nelson who was sworn in as administrator of nasa in may finagle the junket for himself aboard space shuttle flight in nineteen eighty. Six as did former. Senator jake garn the year before and a handful of people including entrepreneur and video game developer. Richard guerrier have bought seeds aboard russian soyuz spacecraft for trips to the iss but the current surge in private spaceflight is something much bigger and likely only to grow so will the elite band fewer than six hundred people who've earned the title astronaut or cosmonaut in russia or tie cannot in china suddenly become a rabble of thousands who singular qualifying criterion was the disposable cash to buy a ticket and take a ride. And that's a question that has a lot of people wondering and at least a few. Shrugging i try not to get all wrapped around the word says nicole stott a retired nasa astronaut who twice flew to space and served a long duration mission aboard the iss. Maybe it's just a question of achieving presence in some place with whatever role you have when you're there she says not. Everyone is so at ease with the matter. The someplace dot mentions may be loosely described as space but has always been more strictly defined as anything above the so called von karman line. That's a boundary point. One hundred kilometers sixty two miles above earth named for hungarian american engineer. Theodore von karman who helped determine the altitude at which aircraft no longer function and spacecraft. Become necessary crossed that frontier. The original thinking went and you earn your astronaut wings that standard qualified not only the early space travelers from the us and ussr. For the astronaut or cosmonaut honor it also qualified the largely forgotten nasa pilot joe walker who in nineteen sixty three flew in.

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