Stuff that matters

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is set to fly to space on July 20 in a vehicle designed by his company Blue Origin, has shared a video on Instagram of the ongoing preparation. Mr Bezos said that he and his team have been practicing full missions in the New Shepard spacecraft’s training simulator ahead of the launch. “Can’t wait for liftoff,” he captioned the post and used the hashtag, ‘GradatimFerociter’, meaning “step by step, ferociously”, which is also the motto of Blue Origin. The video showed Mr Bezos and other soon-to-be astronauts getting a full-scale mock-up training to get acquainted with the machine and the environment they would soon find themselves in.

“Feels good to be in the flight suit,” said the Amazon founder as he entered the training simulator area in an all-blue attire.

The New Shepard mission will officially start the race for space tourism between Mr Bezos and Richard Branson, another billionaire tycoon who beat him to the inaugural launch by a few days. The scheduled launch of Blue Origin is set to intensify the rivalry between the duo to capture the ever-growing commercial space tourism market. Mr Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, flew to space aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane on July 11. He spent a few minutes in zero gravity before returning to Earth.

On July 11, in an Instagram post, the Amazon founder wished Mr Branson, “luck” ahead of his journey to space. Before the flight, Mr Bezos wished Mr Branson and “the whole team a successful and safe flight”.

Later, Mr Bezos also congratulated Mr Branson on his maiden voyage to space.

However, Mr Bezos’ company Blue Origin also raised doubts about whether Virgin Galactic’s test launch can be called a space mission since it did not cross the symbolic Karman Line, which at 100 km is internationally believed to be the space frontier. On Twitter, Blue Origin launched a campaign to discredit Virgin Galactic by comparing how it was better than its rival.

Early in June, Mr Bezos shared a video on Instagram where he told his followers about his space flight, calling it his “greatest adventure”. Mr Bezos captioned the video, “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Mr Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. On July 20, his New Shepard spacecraft will fly beyond the Karman line, after which it will descend back to Earth. The liftoff is scheduled to take place at 9 AM EDT, which is around 6.30 PM IST.