60 years since the first Americans in space: tourists line up

Cape Canaveral, Florida (AP)-60 years after Alan Shepard became the first American in space, everyday people are on the verge of following in the footsteps of his universe.

Jeff Bezos Blue origin The company has finally begun selling short-hop tickets from Texas launched by a rocket named New Shepard. Details will be announced on Wednesday, the 60th anniversary of Shepherd’s Mercury flight.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic aims to begin its sightseeing flight next year as soon as it skims through space and board a rocket ship launched by plane for a test run from New Mexico.

And Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch a billionaire and his sweepstakes winner in September. Then, in January, three businessmen will fly to the International Space Station.

“That’s a big leap, isn’t it?” NASA astronaut Shane Kimbro said he was the commander of the latest flight to the SpaceX space station. “But it’s pretty cool … Citizens can have the opportunity to go to space and experience what we’ve gained.”

It’s all rooted in the 15-minute flight of Shepherd on May 5, 1961.

Shepherd was actually the second person in space-the Soviet Union launched astronaut Yuri Gagarin three weeks ago, causing Shepherd’s eternal disappointment.

Astronaut Mercury and a Navy test pilot, 37, cut a smooth sci-fi figure in a silver spacesuit, looking up at the Redstone rocket in the pre-dawn darkness of Cape Canaveral. Impatient with all the delays, including another hold on the countdown just before the launch, he famously roared into Mike. “Why don’t you solve a small problem and light this candle?”

His capsule, Freedom 7, soared to an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) before parachuting into the Atlantic Ocean.

Twenty days later, President John F. Kennedy promised to land the man on the moon and return it safely by the end of the decade. This was promised by Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969.

Shepherd, who died in 1998, commanded Apollo 14 in 1971 and became the fifth moonwalker.

According to NASA, 579 people have jumped into space and reached their surroundings since the pioneering flights of Gagarin and Shepherd. Nearly two-thirds are American and over 20% are Soviet or Russian. NASA’s crew has become more diverse in recent decades, but about 90% are male and most are white.

Educators at the Black Community College in Tempe, Arizona see her spot on SpaceX’s next private flight as a symbol. Sian Proctor uses the acronym JEDI for “fair, impartial, diverse and inclusive space.”

NASA does not always participate in space travel, but today it does.

“Our goal is to be a day for everyone to become astronauts,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s head of manned spaceflight, on Sunday’s splashdown of the SpaceX capsule with four astronauts. Followed by. “We are very excited to see it getting on track.”

Twenty years ago, NASA clashed with Russian space officials over the world’s first space traveler flight.

California businessman Dennis Tito was launched on a Russian rocket and paid $ 20 million to visit a space station. Virginia-based Space Adventures has arranged a week-long trip to Tito, which ended May 6, 2001, followed by seven sightseeing flights.

“By opening a checkbook, he started the industry 20 years ago,” Space Adventures co-founder Eric Anderson tweeted last week. “The universe is more open to everyone than ever before.”

There is already a line.

Russian actresses and film directors are set to launch from Kazakhstan in the fall. Then in December, two of Space Adventures’ latest clients will follow, launching on the Russian Soyuz rocket. SpaceX will be next in January with three businessmen. The flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was arranged by Axiom Space, a Houston company run by a former NASA employee. And as early as 2023, SpaceX will take Japanese entrepreneurs and their guests back and forth around the moon.

Although not a fan of manned spaceflight, he prefers robot explorers, but Alex Roland, an honorary professor of history at Duke University, said the emergence of a spaceflight company is “the most important change in the last 60 years.” I admit that there is a possibility. Still, he wonders if there is a lot of interest if the novelty disappears and the inevitable deaths occur.

Then the admission fee is high.

US, Canadian, and Israeli entrepreneurs flying SpaceX early next year are paying $ 55 million each for a week and a half mission.

Virgin Galactic tickets are considerably cheaper in minutes compared to weightless days. Initially at $ 250,000, the price is expected to rise as Branson’s company begins accepting reservations again.

When it comes to SpaceX’s private flight in a fully automated dragon capsule, tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman says he’s not paying. He considers the three-day flight a “great responsibility” and has not taken any shortcuts to training. He took the crew last weekend to hike Mount Rainier.

“If something goes wrong, it will retreat the ambition of everyone else going and becoming a commercial astronaut,” Isaacman recently said.

John Logsdon, an emeritus professor at George Washington University, who founded the Institute for Space Policy, has mixed feelings about this transition from space exploration to adventure travel.

“It removes romance and excitement from going to space,” Logsdon said in an email this week. It’s not the dawn of a new era, as many have declared, but “it’s like the end of an era when spaceflight was special. I think it’s progress.”


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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60 years since the first Americans in space: tourists line up

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