Yusaku Maezawa will become the first person to orbit an Earth satellite since 1972. What awaits him and will Space X be able to do what the state space agencies are hesitant to do?
Maezawa is 42 years old and an entrepreneur. His current fortune is estimated at $ 2.9 billion, he is ranked 822th in the world and 18th in Japan in terms of wealth. He started his business selling CDs on which he recorded his favorite bands. Maezawa now owns Japan's largest online clothing store, Zozotown. The future space tourist collects art and plans to build a museum.
Since 1959, automatic stations (robots) have repeatedly flown into the orbit of the Moon, and in September 1968 turtles launched by the USSR with the help of the Proton rocket flew around the Earth satellite. Humans did not reach the lunar orbit until December 1968, but due to the fact that the flight took place without landing, Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders know much less than Neil Armstrong. Their spacecraft was launched into orbit by a Saturn-5 launch vehicle with a carrying capacity of 140 tons.
This is the first time a lay astronaut will orbit the moon. What will he fly on? The last Saturn was launched in 1973. Proton is not suitable for manned launches. Until this year, there were no rockets powerful enough for a manned flight into the orbit of the Moon.
According to Space X, the tourist will go to the satellite of our planet on a new rocket from the BFR company, which is still in development. Its first presentation made a lot of noise, as it is planned to use it for missions to Mars, and for flights from one point of the Earth to another.
Potentially, one could fly around the Moon on the Falcon Heavy, which first took off this year. Earlier, in 2017, SpaceX even announced that two future space tourists had made a deposit for traveling to the moon on this rocket in a manned version of the Dragon spacecraft. Then the flight was already planned for 2018. This is a perfectly logical scenario, but even it would not have been possible to carry out: the first launch of the manned Dragon is planned only for April 2019. But Falcon Heavy has already flown, Dragon Crew is being tested, and the BFR carrier is still being designed.
Most likely, it will take several years for the company to create and test the BFR.
The new carrier SpaceX, according to the company, will surpass Saturn-5 - the most powerful of all rockets ever created by man - in length: 118 meters versus 111. Elon Musk pinned the hopes he envied on the BFR and Napoleon. The new rocket will consist of a reusable upper stage and a head (55 m long) with nose wings and a tail unit for landing in the atmosphere. The flight to Earth will be horizontal, but landing will be on the tail.
In the bow of the rocket there is a room with a volume of 1000 m 3, which can accommodate up to 100 people or 100 tons of cargo. The carrier is planned to be used for flight to other planets, and it may become an important link in the colonization of Mars. Earlier it was reported that the BFR will also be able to fly from London to New York in half an hour.
A man's flight around the Moon, even without landing on a satellite, is an extremely difficult technically and financially costly event. It will require special physical training from a tourist due to a long stay in zero gravity in a confined space.
At a special press conference last Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed the name of the first comic tourist the company will take on an unforgettable journey. This man was 42-year-old Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. According to Forbes, Maezawa's fortune is estimated at $ 3 billion, which he earned by founding Japan's largest online clothing store Zozotown. In addition, Yusaku is known for his irresistible love for contemporary art: he spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually on paintings by famous artists. During the SpaceX event, neither Elon Musk nor Maezawa himself announced the amount for which the Japanese received such an honor. However, they said that this flight will take place no earlier than 2023 - such a long preparation time is required for the most thorough tests of the rocket, which will carry the newly-minted space tourist into near-earth space.
Yusaku Maezawa bought all the seats on the spacecraft in order to take with him 6-8 of the most promising artists (literature, painting, directing, etc.), hoping that this adventure will inspire them to creation of revolutionary new works. Musk did not say whether he will fly on this trip himself, it will become known closer to the time of launch. In February 2017, SpaceX first mentioned its desire to develop the direction of space tourism, and a year ago the company announced the start of construction of the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) transport system, which will serve as a carrier rocket for a vehicle with people. According to the current plan, tourists will leave the Earth's atmosphere, fly around the Moon and return to Earth, having covered 500-650 thousand km in 5 days. The last time people went this far was during the Apollo mission in 1972. Apparently, in the coming years we will witness the birth of a new era in the development of space tourism, so we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the achievements and plans of this industry. In general, the concept of space tourism includes any commercial activity related to space, whether it is observing a rocket launch, flying out of the atmosphere or traveling to other space objects.
In 2018, many people are sincerely surprised that humanity left our planet only 57 years ago - we all know that on April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to fly into space, every year this the day marks the anniversary of this event (it is interesting that in Russia this holiday is known as Cosmonautics Day, and throughout the world this day is called St. George's Night). During all this time, less than 600 people got into space, and most of these flights were organized by government programs, and not by private companies. However, in the following decades, the situation will change dramatically, as space tourism is gradually becoming a mass phenomenon and more and more people can afford to see the Earth through the window. Next, we will tell you about the history of commercial space flight.
The 1960s came to an end, the possibility of manned space flight was finally proved, and some people seriously thought about sending into space not only professionally trained astronauts, but also civilians. In 1972, US President Richard Nixon announced that the new Shuttle would re-invent space travel, as it was designed with reusability in mind.
Development and production were entrusted to a large industrial company Rockwell International, which almost immediately began to look for ways to accommodate a passenger cabin on board, located in the cargo compartment and capable of accommodating up to 74 people for a three-day flight - this was the first tangible step towards the space tourism industry.
In the 80s of the XX century, the first flight into human space was carried out without the participation of the government of any countries. In general, the Shuttle program can be called successful: starting from 1981 and ending with the final mission in 2011, 135 flights were made, in which 355 people took part. Of all these people, the most notable engineer Charles Walker - since his 1984 mission ticket was paid for by his employer McDonell Douglas, Charles is officially considered the first space tourist.
This event inspired NASA to launch a program aimed at awakening interest in the space industry among ordinary people and sending civilians into space, not related to government or science.
In 1985, Christa McAuliffe was selected to fly with the crew of the Challenger as the first teacher in space, but when the Shuttle with Christa on board exploded at launch in early 1986, NASA froze the civilian dispatch program. into space (Space Flight Participant), and the Shuttles were decommissioned for several years.
The 1990s saw the heyday of comic flying as a business. In addition, for the space industry, this decade was remembered for the joint flight of the United States and Russia and the slow but confident entry of China into the world space arena. In the late 90s, for the first time since the tragedy of 1986, there were signs of a revival and a new wave of space tourism development. In 1998, Space Adventures Ltd. was founded, which became the first organization to work with individuals wishing to go to space. Other businessmen and investors saw the potential in this idea, and already in 1999 commercial flights into space were offered by several companies, the most famous of which are Bigelow Aerospace and XCOR Aerospace (both still exist).
Jeff Bezos is the founder of the famous Amazon company and the richest man on Earth. However, his biggest dream is connected with a relatively little-known company called Blue Origin. In April 2018, he announced that he would donate $ 1 billion to his private space company. At the same time, he said that Blue Origin is his most important brainchild.
In February this year, at a private event at the Yale Club in New York, Bezos spoke again about his Napoleonic plans to change the future of humanity and gave the latest news on Blue Origin's success. He gave a half-hour lecture to members of The Wings Club, moderated by journalist Jeff Faust of Space News.
Faust: Where do you see the parallels between aviation and commercial space, and what role should Blue Origin play in it?
Bezos: I'm sure we're at the idea stage right now. An analogy can be drawn here to the early era of aviation, as there are many examples where new technologies initially served to entertain the public. This is what we see today. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are playing a very important role today. The GPU was originally invented for computing in video games, but today it is a key element in machine learning.
I am very encouraged to use our New Shepard suborbital space system for experience. One of the problems of modern astronautics is the lack of sufficient experience. Space rockets of different models are launched a maximum of a couple of dozen times a year, and we simply do not have enough time to gain sufficient experience. There is also real evidence that if a surgeon does a certain operation five times a week, his patient is much more likely to be safe from harm. One of the reasons why aviation is so safe today is precisely because people fly a lot and often.
So, we need to make space launches more often. If the payload costs hundreds of millions of dollars, the launch itself is cheaper. This means that it is extremely important not to make changes to the launch vehicle itself if it is already reliable. The reliability of the rocket becomes much more important than the cost of launching it. And it is very difficult to get out of this state of equilibrium.
Moreover, this approach leads us in the wrong direction, when it is more profitable to make fewer launches and launch very expensive satellites. This is exactly what happens in most cases. At Blue Origin, we set ourselves the task of making frequent launching the norm, and for that we need a workable, reusable media. The key words here are serviceability.
The Space Shuttle was only reusable in theory. In reality, after each flight, all systems of the space shuttle had to be carefully inspected before it could fly again. It would be easier to use a disposable ship instead. You will not be able to fly a Boeing-767 to your destination, and then examine the entire aircraft under X-rays, disassemble it to a small screw, and at the same time rely on low operating costs. So the way out here is just a reusable medium. Our goal is to radically reduce launch costs using a reusable space system. We want to create a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit in space exploration.
I have witnessed an incredible leap forward in the Internet over the past two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago. At first, I sent orders by mail myself. Today we have over 600,000 employees, we have many millions of customers and we are a huge company. How did we achieve such success in such a short time? This happened because we didn't have to do the hard work ourselves. The entire infrastructure was already in place. There was already a telecommunications network that became the backbone of the Internet. An electronic payment system already existed. There was also a worldwide postal network.
How can you make the same breakthrough in astronautics? It is necessary right now to reduce the cost of access to space, since a developed infrastructure is required for astronautics. It takes hundreds of millions of dollars to pursue interesting projects. Such a project is no longer possible for every student. Mark Zuckerberg's success in space today would be impossible. I want to invest the money I earned from Amazon to build a powerful infrastructure for the delivery of heavy cargo into space, which will help a young generation of active entrepreneurs in space. I want to build a transport network, so to speak. This is what we are doing, and this is the mission of Blue Origin.
Regarding orbiting. It turns out there are many creative ways to do this. But what about the launch itself? I've tried various creative ways, and trust me, chemical rocket engines are the best option. They simply cannot be thrown away after every flight.
The total thrust of the New Glenn first stage engines will be nearly 1,800 tons. Liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen are used as fuel. Fuel costs are less than a million dollars. And it's not about fuel, but about reducing the weight of high-quality aerospace equipment. Pre-engineering is needed to test the functionality, and this is one of the reasons why we made New Shepard first. We learn from mistakes made while working on New Shepard and prevent them while developing New Glenn.
We are witnessing the start of the next big space race. But this time it is not the USA against the USSR. It's a race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The aerospace industry has always been driven by competition. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh competed with eight other teams to fly the first non-stop transatlantic flight and win the $ 25,000 Orteig Prize. In the 1960s, it was the race of America and the Soviet Union that led to the appearance of Sputnik, the flight of Yuri Gagarin and Apollo 11.
But fast forward 40 years. In 2004, the $ 10 million Ansari XPRIZE competition sparked the commercial space industry. And today, in 2019, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, a competition flares up that will take people into space on rockets. The struggle unfolds between two desperate and talented billionaires: Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
Let's assess the capabilities and vision of each of them.
"Do we want stagnation and rationing or do we want dynamism and growth?" - Jeff Bezos
Despite the fact that Jeff has always been a passionate space enthusiast, instead of pursuing aerospace activities, he first went to Wall Street, founded Amazon, which eventually brought him personal capital exceeding $ 150 billion dollars.
Today, Jeff remains true to his passion for space, donating $ 1 billion annually to support his space company Blue Origin (in honor of Earth).
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of creating "a future in which millions of people live and work in space." Of course, the first step for any serious space company is to build rockets capable of launching humans and payloads from Earth into space. In this category, Jeff has planned to launch more and more rockets.
The first of these vehicles is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard. New Shepard is a Blue Origin suborbital rocket designed for suborbital space tourism. After 10 successful successive launches and landings by the end of 2019, New Shepard is expected to deliver its first human astronauts to suborbital space.
The next spacecraft is the New Glenn rocket (named after astronaut John Glenn), which will be able to lift significant cargo and people to the moon. Like SpaceX's Falcon 9, New Glenn is designed for reusable vertical landing. Blue Origin hopes to launch a New Glenn rocket in 2021.
From 2025, the Russian company "Kosmokurs" will begin to conduct group space excursions. The cost of the flight is 200-250 thousand dollars per person. The American Blue Origin has already become interested in this sphere, the flight through which will cost the interested person about the same amount. I learned “360” from cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, during whose work a space tourist visited the ISS, what awaits travelers in orbit and what are the prospects for the new tourism industry.
The first tourists of "Kosmokurs" in 2025 will go on a 15-20-minute flight, which will take place at an altitude of Gagarin's orbit - 180-220 kilometers from the earth's surface. At the same time, they will spend five or six minutes in zero gravity, the press service of the company said.
Six tourists will be able to accommodate in the 30-square-meter salon, each of whom will have to pay $ 200-250 thousand, and an instructor. Space excursions will be conducted along an open trajectory on a reusable spacecraft and a reusable carrier rocket, which the domestic company will develop in the next seven years.
According to Vedomosti, the Kosmokurs project is private. Iskander Makhmudov, co-owner of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, is named as the main investor. His comment "360" could not be obtained.
The main competitors of Kosmokurs are Blue Origin, a company of the American billionaire Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson's British Virgin Galactic. In addition, in 2017, Elona Max's SpaceX said that two applicants had already made an advance payment for a flight around the moon on a manned Dragon 2 capsule.
The cost of the flight was not announced then. But, as Reuters found out, next year Blue Origin will start selling tickets for the New Shepard spacecraft. The cost of the flight, according to agency sources in the company, will cost 200-300 thousand dollars per person.
The moon as an industrial zone: the head of Amazon wants to turn the Earth satellite into a huge factory
Travelers will be sent into suborbital space at an altitude of 100 kilometers, where the border between the atmosphere and space passes. So tourists have every chance to experience the feeling of weightlessness. The flights will take place in a manned capsule with portholes for six people. The company has conducted eight successful test flights, although so far without passengers, but with a dummy in the cabin.