Suborbital flights, however, don’t need to travel nearly as fast. They need only reach an altitude above the 50 miles mark — which the US government considers to mark the edge of outer space — or the 62-mile mark, which is internationally considered the demarcating line. (New Shepard is expected to reach over 62 miles.)
What New Shepard will do on Tuesday will more closely resemble what Richard Branson — the other, other space billionaire — is planning to do with his company, Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic is also planning to launch wealthy tourists to suborbital space, though it developed a much different vehicle to get there. Rather than an autonomous rocket that takes off vertically, Virgin Galactic has built a piloted space plane that takes off from a runway (much like an airplane) attached to a massive winged mothership.
Virgin Galactic has completed test flights of its own, and Branson became the first billionaire to fly to space aboard a rocket he helped fund on July 11.
How risky is this?
Space travel is, historically, fraught with danger. Though the risks are not necessarily astronomical for Bezos’ jaunt to suborbital space, as his space company Blue Origin has spent the better part of the last decade running New Shepard through a series of successful test flights.
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