- Richard Branson is flying to space on July 11, nine days before Jeff Bezos.
- The CEO of Blue Origin, Bezos’ space exploration company, said Branson won’t fly as high as Bezos.
- He said Branson won’t pass the Kármán line, an imaginary boundary between the atmosphere and space.
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The CEO of Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company, Blue Origin, downplayed the fact that billionaire Richard Branson will beat Bezos to the edge of outer space.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic announced Thursday it would fly Branson to space on July 11 – nine days before Jeff Bezos is due to fly onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.
In a statement to The New York Times on Thursday, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said Branson won’t fly as high as Bezos.
“We wish him a great and safe flight, but they’re not flying above the Kármán line and it’s a very different experience,” Smith said.
The Kármán line is an imaginary boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The Kármán line is 100 kilometers (62 miles) above sea level, although there is some debate about where space officially begins, with different agencies using different definitions.
New Shepard is set to fly just above the Kármán line.
Smith did not elaborate on exactly how Branson and Bezos’ experiences would differ. Both flights are set to be sub-orbital, and Bezos will experience roughly three minutes of weightlessness if New Shepard reaches its expected height.
Virgin Galactic has not shared the expected altitude of Branson’s flight, but in the last crewed test of its SpaceShipTwo space plane, the craft reached 89km above sea level. The New York Times reports that Branson and the other passengers are set for about four minutes of weightlessness.
Virgin Galactic did not immediately respond to Smith’s statement when contacted by Insider.