Entrepreneur, Mário Ferreira could become the first Portuguese space tourist today, on a suborbital trip of just over 10 minutes.
The autonomous and reusable New Shepard capsule from the North American company Blue Origin will take off today from the Texas desert, in the United States, with the launch "window" scheduled to start at 2:30 pm (Lisbon time).
This is the sixth suborbital flight with crew from Blue Origin, an aerospace company run by tycoon Jeff Bezos.
Alongside Mário Ferreira, president of the Pluris Investments group, through which he holds a stake in the capital of the TVI television station and the Douro Azul cruise company, will be Egyptian engineer Sara Sabry, Anglo-American mountaineer Vanessa O'Brien, co-founder of the YouTube sports channel “Dude Perfect” Coby Cotton, former telecoms executive Steve Young and technology expert Clint Kelly III.
If all goes well, and like other flights, the six crew members will cross the barrier that separates the limit of the Earth's atmosphere and space and feel microgravity, in a short trip of just over 10 minutes between take-off (driven by a thruster) and landing (smoothed by a parachute). None of the crew will have to pilot the spacecraft, as it is fully autonomous.
Mário Ferreira told Lusa News that he believes that “soon” there will be orbital 'resorts' “for tourism and scientific experiments”, and he is also considering investing in the aerospace industry.
"This is for me the first flight of what I believe will be the future of space travel. The companies that I have met, including this one, have very interesting programs running that are not science fiction."
The businessman said that his training has been very intense.
"On Tuesday, it was 13 straight hours, today (Wednesday) about 12 hours. Training at this stage is very much based on safety issues and repetition of movements”, Ferreira told Lusa, indicating that the crew already have a sense of time and “of the adverse forces” that they will feel in the body during the trip.
Regarding the bottle of Port wine that he will send into space on the flight, he said he wanted his mission “to be more than a tourist experience”, also having “an experimental area”.
We want to see what changes a 2003 vintage can undergo, let's see if with the G forces and the absence of gravity, it changes flavour, colour, and if there will be other chemical or molecular changes”.
In addition to Taylor's Port wine, which at the time invested “in a special bottle, not glass, with a cork stopper”, there are other items that he will also take on the trip.
In question is a “tribute to the Douro, to the river, to boats and to an art” that is said to be admired, so a “rabelo boat in filigree” will be sent.
Mário Ferreira, who in July was constituted a defendant in “Operation Ferry”, which investigates possible crimes of qualified tax fraud and money laundering in the business of buying and selling the ship Atlântida, had already expressed his desire to go to space and even went so far as to buy ticket to fly with another company, Virgin Galactic.
The Blue Origin spacecraft is named after the astronaut (Alan Shepard) who became the first American to reach space, in 1961, and the fifth to set foot on the surface of the Moon, in 1971.