Amazon, founder jeff, bezos is set to launch into space tuesday, and it looks like he’s gon na do his very best to one up richard branson, who of course reached the nasa recognized space border last weekend, which is 50 miles above sea level. It really is cool to watch this stuff happen. Right. Bezos says that he plans to go 12 miles higher the internationally recognized space border. If you will also known as the carbon line he’s, also going to have the first paying customer on board his trip joining us. Now is former astronaut and international space station commander, leroy chao and contributing writer at the new yorker nicholas schmeidel nicholas i’m. Sorry schmidle! Sorry, sorry for mispronouncing that i should also know he’s. Also, the author of the new book test gods virgin galactic and the making of a modern astronaut. Gentlemen. Thank you both for joining us today, uh leroy. We we already saw that first commercial space flight last week. Do you sort of feel like some of the hype? Is gone now or do we think this is really gon na have the same sort of fanfare on tuesday? What are you looking for? Well, i think it’ll probably have around the same kind of fanfare, just because uh we do have another. You know household made going up uh, of course, richard branson uh, being the the classic kind of a showman that he is uh, definitely um. You know i got got out there first, but uh yeah, jeff bezos.
I think a lot of people will be watching this too nicholas. You literally wrote the book on virgin at galactic here. What did you think of the event? Because it was an event? Make no mistake, i mean, were there any surprises for you and did your sources give you any indication that branson was happy with how it all went down, uh yeah, so yeah i mean i was. I talked to people who were with him that morning i mean, i think, that he was elated with how it went down uh. You know, as leroy said, he was up first, which was huge for them to get up and to beat blue origin. Part of that is what you alluded to in the opening, which is that they are flying a little bit below this. This internationally recognized karma online, and so they wanted to become first, they wanted to kind of plant a flag and to say and look you could look, you could see from the uh from the inside of the spaceship that you know: it’s black outside there’s, a blue Earth down below they’re floating in their seats to to most of us that looks pretty much like space and so uh yeah. I mean, i think the big surprise potentially was alluding to the showmen that richard branson ostensibly rode his bike to the to the uh launch and in fact did not ride his bike that morning and that was sort of a pastiche of videos that they put together.
Later yeah nicholas, you know, jeff bezos is going to have some passengers join him on this flight into space there’s going to be an 18 year old on board, who was sort of a runner up and in the auction for a seat. I know he’s in his gap year before college and making his way into space uh. How big of a deal is it to have these passengers on this flight with jeff bezos yeah it’s, a pretty, i mean look at any passengers, any anyone that is not uh, either the owner of the company and or or a test pilot in the case of Virgin galactic, you know they’ve done this now. This is the fourth time they’ve done it. Uh they’ve done it three times with test pilots and having test pilots who are trained to sort of manage and take on. Those risks is one thing to put uh um, either engineers who, who haven’t signed up necessarily to be test pilots and or passengers it’s it’s. You know it’s a big statement, it’s a show of confidence in the engineering and in the program and so uh. You know. Look blue origin has done this 15 times they’ve flown this uncrewed rocket to the edge of space 15 times successfully for them. This seems not, you know, they’re this isn’t, that big of a deal you’re putting clearly people on board, but for virgin galactic every time they go up uh. You know they’ve they’ve not flown to space once without pass without humans on board, so it’s really kind of it’s, a very different risk analysis and risk calculation for the two companies as well.
You know and real quick uh leroy. We know that one of the other passengers is 82 year old, wally funk, i think, we’re all pulling for her we’re all thrilled to see that she’s going up. But what does it say to have somebody who’s, maybe just so inspirational, be a part of this. Do you think this is a big draw for viewers tuesday? Oh absolutely, i think it’s fantastic that she’s finally going to get a chance to go into space. I can only imagine you know the mercury 13, the disappointment they felt. First, the excitement of being selected and possibly getting a chance to go in the disappointment of just all being dropped, so i’m really happy to see her go. I think it will be a big draw for you know for a lot of reasons, including you know, people who who were excited about when john glenn got to fly, say: hey, you know, look we’ve got a senior citizen going uh yeah, so it’s it’s. I think it’s a great move by by jeff bezos, former astronaut and commander leroy chao and nicholas schmidle. Thank you so much both of you for joining us and tuesday join msnbc for special coverage of the new space race coverage begins tuesday at 8 a.m.