Jeff Bezos Takes 10 Minutes Journey To Space
Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, soared some 66.5 miles (107 km) above the Texas desert aboard his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle on Tuesday and returned safely to Earth, a historic suborbital flight that helps usher in a new era of space tourism.
“Best day ever,” Bezos, accompanied by three crewmates including the world’s oldest and youngest space travelers, said after his capsule descended with three large parachutes and touched down, kicking up a cloud of dust.
The 57-year-old American billionaire, donning a blue flight suit and cowboy hat, took a trip to the edge of space lasting 10 minutes and 10 seconds. After landing, Bezos and his crewmates exchanged hugs and popped champagne while roughly two dozen family members and company employees cheered.
“Astronaut Bezos in my seat – happy, happy, happy,” Bezos told mission control during a safety check after the passengers buckled back in following a few minutes of weightlessness in space.
The fully autonomous 60-foot-tall (18.3-meters-tall) gleaming white spacecraft, with a feather design on its side, ignited its BE-3 engine for a vertical liftoff from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One facility about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural town of Van Horn under mostly clear skies.
Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), and his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, were joined by two others. Pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk, 82, and recent high school graduate Oliver Daemen, 18, became the oldest and youngest people to reach space.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this,” Bezos told reporters afterward.
The flight came nine days after Briton Richard Branson was aboard his competing space tourism venture Virgin Galactic’s successful inaugural suborbital flight from New Mexico. The two flights give credibility and inject enthusiasm into the fledgling commercial space tourism industry, which Swiss bank UBS estimates will be worth $3 billion annually in a decade.
Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, said this first crewed space flight was a step toward developing a fleet of reusable spacecraft.
“We’re going to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build a future,” Bezos added. “… We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth.”
Blue Origin plans for two more New Shepard passenger flights this year. Bezos said Blue Origin has not determined its pace of flights after that but is approaching $100 million in private sales.
“The demand is very, very high,” Bezos said, adding: “Big things start small.”
Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos and pioneering female aviator Wally Funk emerge from their capsule after their flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on the world’s first unpiloted suborbital flight near Van Horn, Texas, U.S., July 20, 2021 in a still image from video. Blue Origin/Handout via REUTERS.
Bezos said his company is working “ferociously” toward being able to reuse New Shepard vehicles at least 100 times. The one used on Tuesday, twice previously flown to space, scored a bulls-eye landing on a nearby pad.