ATLAS Space Operations Watches Bezos’ Spaceflight

"It really is a differentiating time for humanity in terms of space." - Atlas Space Operations CEO & Founder Sean McDaniel

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos has made it into space, riding onboard his own company’s rocket. It is Blue Origin’s first flight with people on board after 15 test flights. And it comes less than 10 days after billionaire Richard Branson flew a space mission of his own. Atlas Satellite

Millions were watching from planet earth – and that includes a group right here in northern Michigan. Atlas Space Operations CEO & Founder Sean McDaniel  says, “It’s been a long buildup over, I’d say the last decade and a half, to see the culmination of the dreams of private citizens coming to fruition. It really is an exciting time.”

A billionaire and his fellow passengers are now considered space travelers. McDaniel says, “Space is a frontier that is, once accessible to the governments and government programs, now it’s accessible to the private citizen. It really is exciting.”

ATLAS Space Operations in Traverse City is focused on space-based satellite communications. The Founder and CEO says it’s just the beginning. “It is just the start. There’s obviously been a lot of activity from the private sector in the space industry over the last five years or so. And it’s been accelerating with the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.”

The ATLAS team watched it unfold – and Tuesday was an exciting morning around the office. McDaniel says of Bezos and Branson, “It’s possible. It’s no longer talk. It’s talk put into action. There are dreamers and doers and they’re both.”

Atlas Space OperationsThis is a new kind of space race, and the ATLAS CEO tells us it does mean good things for those companies operating here on the ground with their eyes to the sky. “I’m excited to see both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin achieve their success. And we’re very hopeful that in the near future we’ll be supporting their missions.”

It’s also inspirational – and motivational – for people who work in the space industry. “Accessibility to space from a human spaceflight perspective is still out of reach for most of the population… just with any new industry the price will come down as competition emerges.” So there’s no surprise there that someone with the means to do it – is making it happen.  “The exhilaration and the experience is something that quite frankly today is worth it to a lot of people.”

To McDaniel, too, apparently. His eyes grew wide when asked about his own aspirations. “I hope to experience it someday, when it’s within reach of me financially,” he laughs. Atlas Satellite Map

The Associated Press reports that the Amazon founder blasted into space Tuesday with a hand-picked group that included his younger brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas. They’re the youngest and oldest to ever hurtle off the planet. Their capsule landed 10 minutes later on the desert floor in West Texas. Named after America’s first astronaut, the New Shepard rocket soared on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

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