"What is that?" asked a volunteer at the Homebuilder's Pavilion last weekend. The crane and booster were visible from nearly a mile away. It turns out it is an actual, working booster from Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space venture. It has launched five times from the west Texas desert and safely returned. The dirt, soot, and blemishes aren't paint... they were earned. So, KITPLANES Editor-in-Chief Paul Dye and I wandered over to check out the display and discovered that the capsule nearby was a simulator.
Six people at a time sit in comfortable recliners for a six-minute "ride" into space. The capsule rocks at various times, a Blue Origin interpreters standing in the center of the capsule explains what is happening at each stage, and video from a previous unmanned launch (and return) shows on monitors in front of each person. While not a perfect "simulator" experience (e.g., looking out the port windows shows the usual hustle and bustle of AirVenture), the presentation gives a clear understanding of what Blue Origin hope to provide to their paying customers in the future. (When we asked how much a ticket was expected to cost, the reply was only "a lot.")
"Rides" will continue through the weekend so hurry over to the north side of Boeing Plaza (hard to miss that booster!) and get yourself a space experience.