New Shepard: Jeff Bezos Launches to Space Aboard His Rocket Ship
Jeff Bezos blasted into space on July 20, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard.
The billionaire was accompanied by his brother, Mark, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen.
They travelled in a capsule with the biggest windows flown in space, offering stunning views of the Earth.
All four passengers have now parachuted safely back to Earth after their 10-minute, 10-second trip.
New Shepard, built by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin, is designed to serve the burgeoning market for space tourism among the super-wealthy.
On this flight was the oldest person who has been to space – Wally Funk – and the youngest, Oliver Daemen.
The spacecraft lifted off at 09:12 EDT from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas.
After the capsule touched down, Jeff Bezos said: “Astronaut Bezos [his callsign]: Best day ever!”
He later said: “My expectations were high and they were dramatically exceeded.”
Two minutes into the flight, the capsule separated from its rocket and continued upwards towards the Karman Line – the most widely recognized boundary of space, 100km up.
The passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness, and were able to unstrap from their seats to float around and enjoy the views of our planet far below.
Jeff Bezos said he was surprised by the sensation of microgravity: “It felt so normal.”
As the capsule passed the Karman Line, the astronauts could be heard shouting “wow!” and cheering.
“Oh my word, look at the world,” Wally Funk said as she marveled at the views.
Before the flight, Wally Funk had said she was looking forward to performing somersaults and tumbles in microgravity.
In the 1960s, Wally Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13. They underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but never got to fly into space.
The capsule reached a maximum altitude of around 107km (351,210ft) before starting its descent, parachuting down to a soft touchdown in the desert.
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On the way down, Jeff Bezos told mission control: “You have a very happy crew here up here, I want you to know.”
After landing, Mark Bezos, 53, said: “I am unbelievably good.”
Jeff Bezos recently resigned as chief executive of Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded, in order to concentrate on his other ventures, including Blue Origin.
Mark Bezos, is a senior vice president at Robin Hood, a New York-based charity.
The fourth passenger, Oliver Daemen, is the son of financier Joes Daemen, who founded Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners. Oliver Daemen had originally secured a seat on the second flight, but was drafted in to replace the anonymous winner of a public auction.
This unnamed winner, who paid $28 million to join Jeff Bezos on New Shepard’s first crewed flight, had to pull out “due to scheduling conflicts”.