Question about billionaires in space

Can someone explain why Branson’s flight took 90 minutes but Bezos was only up for 10. As I understand it, they both had a few minutes at zero G and both got to the border of where space supposedly begins although Bezos went higher. What is the difference that accounts for a ninefold difference in flight time?

These are both suborbital flights, so I supposoe the parabola for Bezos’ trajectory was simply steeper, with a higher altitude but less of a horizontal distance travelled.

Branson’s rocket was carried part of the way up by a specially built airplane before firing off. This allows for a smaller rocket, but takes longer to ride up.

Bezos rode a rocket from ground to space, which requires a bigger rocket but takes less time.

Branson’s rocket comes down like a glider/airplane, which takes longer but doesn’t require a parachute and gives more control over exact landing spot.

Bezos’ rocket comes more or less straight down, which takes less time but does require a parachute and exact landing spot is not so easily controlled.

This. The launch aircraft, White Knight Two, drops the spacecraft from an altitude of 49,000 feet, after which the spacecraft rocket motor lights and starts its ascent to space. 49,000 feet is a good bit higher than commercial aircraft fly, and WNT isn’t built for speed, so it takes a while to get there.

The descent glide takes longer than Bezos’ capsule descent, but I think only by a few minutes.

Good answers. I watched both launches. This is my impression. Branson’s voyage appeared to target a section of the population who wants a more luxurious, traditional mode of going into outer space.

Bezos voyage was much more exciting, dangerous, trip. It was louder, faster, then landing in a cloud of dust and toasting outside with champagne wearing cowboy hats.

I liked both I would pick Branson’s trip for my mom and dad the family version.

I would choose Bezos trip for excitement and adventure for myself.

I’ll agree with the “luxurious” part, given that Branson’s group were sitting upright, and I would imagine the G-forces were far less.

But “traditional”? I suppose it is sort of traditional if you compare it to regular air travel and ignore the “White Knight” portion. But compared to past flights, almost every single one of which had a vertical blast-off with everyone lying on their backs because of the high G-forces? By that standard, Bezos was FAR more traditional, no?

Not only did Bezos go higher, he went significantly higher, given that he reached space as defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, which is 100 kilometers. Branson only got to space as defined by NASA and the US Air Force, which is 50 miles. (Which is not to denigrate his accomplishment in any way, except to compare it to Bezos’.)

More info on Wikipedia at Karman Line

I using the word traditional as in more like flying on a jet. Buy tickets, boarding pass, take off, arrive at destination. It is what I would expect the experience to be. Branson nailed it.

However if I’m buying a ticket I liked Bezos idea! I vision a semi remote location somewhere. Desert landing was perfect. I really don’t know how to explain it. His trip was what I would pay for if I had the money. They seemed like they had more fun.

They were only upright for the first and last parts of the flight. Once Spaceship Two’s rocket motor lit off and the vehicle pitched up toward space, they were lying on their backs, even farther back than the folks in Blue Origin.

Blue Origin interior, showing occupant posture. Occupants maintained this posture/orientation throughout the flight (except during the weightless portion).

Pics of Spaceship Two interior, showing seating configuration. During zero-G the seatbacks recline almost parallel to the floor, providing the max airspace for weightless hijinks - but the rest of the time, you are postured as if on a passenger airliner, with your thighs parallel to the floor and your back ~perpendicular to it.

Whatever the Kármán Line defines, for me it isn’t space travel if it remains suborbital. What Yuri Gagarin achieved 1961 was space travel, what Alan Shepard did was not in 1961, but sure was 1971.
When the billionaires get over this anal (or is it phallic?)-puerile phase sensible rules will apply, I hope - except for Elon Musk: His will be harsher. The maximum number of characters allowed in his tweets will be equal to 280 multiplied by the G-force that he is under at the moment of writing.

100 km vs 50 miles is really 100 vs 80.5 km. That’s a difference, without a doubt, but not as extreme as the mixed units view would imply


Call Hollywood (or the Muppets). It sings!

Today’s New Shepard flight is discussed in another thread that includes more detail on the flight profile, G-forces, etc.

So Blue Origin’s flight is much faster, goes much higher, etc. compared to Branson’s more gentle SpaceShipTwo. The key difference is how many G’s the passenger’s experience.

An analogy: If you hit the gas as hard as you can when the light turns green, you’ll reach maybe 40 mph then arrive at the next red light one block away very quickly. But then you’ll need to slam on the brakes. This is a lot rougher on your passengers, compared to the limo that smoothly accelerates, reaches a stately 25 mph then smoothly brakes, arriving fully 10-15 seconds slower than you (you speed demon!).

From news reports, the two recent flights reached altitudes of 107 km (New Shepard) and 86 km (SpaceShipTwo). I believe both have reached higher altitudes in test flights.

TBH, i was more impressed by Felix Baumgartner’s efforts.

Or this guy, who almost did more with less: Nick Piantanida - Wikipedia

I wish Nick was better known.