William Shatner went into space on the Blue Origin mission

The New Shepard NS-14 leaves West Texas launch site One on January 1, 2021.

Where does space begin? Does it start when you look, and the sky turns from blue to dark and stained with stars? When you go so high that you float, as you see with astronauts on the space station?

This is a question many space nerds – and, Apparently, Jeff Bezos’s team at Blue Origin – cares a lot.

But there is no single definition of “outer space”. The current attempt to define where space begins is essentially an exercise in making the Earth’s atmosphere less troublesome than the Earth’s gravitational pull, and there is no exact altitude where it occurs. The atmosphere becomes thinner, but the “emptiness of space” is never without matter. Basically, it’s a vague line.

Quick reminder: The zero gravity experience has nothing to do with height – or at least, not going to Shatner at relatively low altitudes. The Earth’s gravitational pull will still toggle on the Blue Origin capsule when it reaches weightlessness “in opposition” – the sound of spaceflight at the very top of a flight path.

The astronauts will be weightless because the energy on the way to the top of the rocket and capsule is being lost by the gravity of the earth, providing an extreme version of the feeling you feel when you reach the top of a large roller coaster hill. .

Richard Branson’s flight took off on a space plane developed by his space agency Virgin Galactic, which reached an altitude of more than 50 miles in July, which the U.S. government considers the beginning of outer space.

The Blue Origin flight hit 62 miles high – Also known as the Kerman Line – an internationally recognized height.

Exactly which is the correct-US-recognized 50-mile mark or the internationally recognized 62-mile Kerman line is widely debated and largely arbitrary.

Nevertheless, Blue Origin is known Attack his opponent For inequality, the allegation is that Virgin Galactic will make astronauts astronauts “with an asteroid”.

But here’s the thing: When we say that the international community “recognizes” or “accepts” the 2-mile Kerman Line as the edge of space, we are mostly referring to an organization, the Federation Aeronautical International, which holds the world record for spacecraft. To calculate how many people have become astronauts.

But even the FAI says it changed its definition in response to research from the US-recognized 50 mile mark Jonathan McDowell The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which argues that satellites can orbit less than 62 miles, and even the basic definition of the Kerman line was not so much.

Whether the US government will consider Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic customers as “astronauts” – and earn a pair of astronaut wings – is a completely different matter. (Most of them won’t.)

It should also be noted that Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin is not sending passengers into orbit, as SpaceX has done. (Even orbiting astronauts are not guaranteed an official astronaut wing.)

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