July 11, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, could fly into space aboard SpaceShipTwo to evaluate the company’s private astronaut experience. However, if you ask rival company Blue Origin, Branson will not actually reach space when he does. For a couple tweets, a space corporation owned by Jeff Bezos compared what New Shepard’s own subordinate vehicle can do with the capabilities of SpaceShipTwo. First on the list? The company says the New Shepard is designed to fly over the Kármán line, while its competitor’s vehicle is not.
The Kárman line is the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and the universe, set by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. It is defined as 100 kilometers or 62 miles above sea level, and according to Blue Origin, that is what “96 percent of the world’s population” recognizes as the beginning of the universe. Blue Origin plans to offer customers a 10-minute flight with altitude reaching the Kármán line. Virgin Galactic’s, meanwhile Web page says the flights will soar to an altitude of “almost” 300,000 feet (57 miles). It doesn’t quite reach the Kármán line, though it’s still more than what NASA and the U.S. government define as the beginning of space (50 miles above sea level).
In addition to comparing the maximum altitudes of its vehicles, Blue Origin also pointed out noting that New Shepard has the largest windows in space. Also, the New Shepard is a rocket, but the SpaceShipTwo is, according to Blue Origin, just a plane at high altitude. The company released the comparison after Virgin Galactic scheduled Branson’s space trip before Jeff Bezos – the multibillionaire and his brother will join Blue Origin’s first suborbital tourist flight scheduled for launch on July 20.
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