Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos says passengers looking to venture into space on board the company's space tourism vehicle New Shepard better visit the bathroom before flight. The tech executive warned space tourists to not get sick during the trip since the company currently has no plans to install any kind of system to deal with human waste.
"Go to the bathroom in advance," Bezos told a crowd at the 33rd annual Space Symposium in Colorado on Wednesday, Space.com reports. "The whole thing, from boarding until you're back on the ground, is probably 40 or 41 minutes. So you're going to be fine. You could dehydrate ever so slightly if you have a weak bladder." Passengers will only be allowed to board the craft 30 minutes before takeoff.
The entire trip on board Blue Origin's new reusable, suborbital vehicle will last around 11 minutes. People who buy a ticket to fly aboard the New Shepard will get to travel above the Karman line, 100km above the Earth's surface, which is the boundary line between the Earth's atmosphere and space.
The capsule will accommodate six passengers strapped into soft, black leather seats set up around its perimeter, according to Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's head of astronaut strategy and sales. Each seat will be reclined to a 70-degree angle to give passengers a clear view out of the craft's large windows into the vast expanse of space.
Passengers will get to unbuckle once the vehicle reaches space to enjoy around four minutes of weightlessness. The craft will be equipped with soft walls and handrails as well, Cornell added.
However, people tend to get nauseous when they experience weightlessness. NASA's zero-gravity aircrafts, used to train and introduce astronauts to the feeling of weightlessness experienced in space by traveling in parabolic arcs, are famously dubbed "Vomit Comets".
However, Bezos assures people that they probably will not get sick during the flight.
"[People] don't throw up right away," he explained. "We're not going to worry about it... It's a delayed effect, and this journey takes 10 or 11 minutes. So you're going to be fine."
Former chief scientist at Nasa's human research program Mark Shelhamer said the spacecraft's lack of such facilities should not be an issue, given the flight's short duration.
"On the way up and down everyone will have to be seated for safety," Shelhamer told Gizmodo. "And in 0g no one will want to use their valuable time in the bathroom. Plus it's a small capsule. Even a bathroom wouldn't provide much privacy."
For passengers prone to urinating or defecating during anxious or stressful situations, "diapers will probably be the answer," he said.
"Apollo astronauts wore them on the moon so there's no shame in it," Shelhamer said. "You can't be squeamish about body functions if you want to go to space."
The completely autonomous vehicle will not have a human pilot on-board either.
Two days before launch from the Blue Origin facility in Van Horn, Texas, travellers will get to meet their fellow passengers, receive training from a Blue Origin employee called "Crew Member 7" and learn about "etiquette" for the zero gravity part of the flight.
"The system has been designed from the very beginning so that the training can be minimal," Bezos said. "You have to know how to strap yourself in and a few other things. But it's not a significant amount of training."
Blue Origin has not yet announced the prices for the coveted tickets, which is likely to be in the six figure territory. Bezos said the space firm is still "working" on the price of the initial tickets.
"We'll figure something out, but it's not an urgent thing," he said. The company expects to fly its first customers by 2018.