How were Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson's space launches different?

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TEXAS (NewsNation Now) — Two of the three well-known billionaires involved in the space race have completed their first trips into the sky but what was different between the launches?

Blue Origin, the company owned by Jeff Bezos, completed their first trip on July 20, taking with them 80-year-old Wally Funk, 50-year-old Mark Bezos, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

Virgin Galactic, the company owned by Richard Branson, took the billionaire and five other astronauts into the atmosphere on July 11.

Did they both fly into space?

A topic heavily debated when discussing both flights is if either billionaire went into space. While both claim to, Blue Origin pushes back on the idea that Virgin Galactic achieved space travel.

In a tweet sent from the official Blue Origin account comparing the two, the company states that the New Shepard would fly above the “Kármán line” which is the international boundary of space or 100km up.

Virgin Galactic reached an altitude of 53.5 miles over the New Mexico desert which was enough for some weightlessness and to see the Earth’s curvature.

Blue Origin reached an altitude of about 66 miles, more than 10 miles higher than the Virgin Galactic flight.

NASA and the FAA consider 50 miles up the boundary of space.

How long did they fly?

While Bezos’ ship launched higher, Branson’s was in the atmosphere for a longer period of time.

Blue Origin’s trip lasted 11 minutes in total with the crew safely touching down in a capsule after their ascension.

Virgin Galactic conversely, lasted 59 minutes from takeoff to touchdown.

What made their landings different?

In addition to the different spacecraft designs, the two companies also designed their landing modes to be different.

Virgin Galactic’s airplane style spacecraft landed back to earth like a space shuttle runway landing. The crew was able to exit it similarly to a plane.

Blue Origin modeled themselves on the classic NASA human space flights of the ’60s and ’70s with a capsule-style landing. Bezos and his crew arrived back on the ground in the capsule though instead of the sea so that the capsule could be reused on future launches.

What kind of aircrafts did they use?

Blue Origin opted for a traditional rocket design with boosters and a capsule that detached on landing. Their ship, called the New Shepard, is named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.

Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos is launched with three crew members aboard a New Shepard rocket on the world’s first unpiloted suborbital flight from Blue Origin’s Launch Site 1 near Van Horn, Texas, U.S., July 20, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Virgin Galactic’s unique-looking aircraft is modeled on a traditional airplane with rockets attached. When Branson headed into space, the center rocket component detached from the regular plane components.

This Sept. 8, 2016 photo made available by Virgin Galactic shows the company’s Spaceship Unity and Mothership Eve. After reaching nearly 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), Unity will be released and drop for a moment or two before its rocket motor ignites to send the craft on a steep climb toward space. (Virgin Galactic via AP)

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  • How were Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson’s space launches different?

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