Jeff Bezos, the billionaire, launched into space on the first crewed flight of his company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. Bezos was joined by his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old space pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Dutch student Oliver Daemen. The launch occurred from Bezos’ private launch facility near Van Horn, Texas, and lasted approximately ten minutes.
Full story of Blue origin historic launch and safe return:
Jeff Bezos rocketed past the edge of space Tuesday, launching from the improbable spaceport he built in the West Texas desert, fulfilling a lifelong dream of a die-hard Trekkie who was transfixed by the Apollo 11 moon landing and has pledged to use his fortune to open space to the masses.
The New Shepard rocket, which Bezos’s Blue Origin space venture has been developing for years, lifted off at 9:12 a.m. Eastern time, carrying one of the most unusual astronaut crews ever to leave Earth. Along with Bezos, the capsule carried his brother, Mark; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who lucked into the flight when the winner of an auction for the fourth seat had to cancel.
The launch established records for the oldest and youngest person to fly to space, coming just nine days after Richard Branson flew on a similar suborbital trajectory. The consecutive launches were yet another sign of space exploration’s modern renaissance, a movement fueled not by nations but by a burgeoning commercial space industry backed by billionaires.
Bezos announced Tuesday that Blue Origin is closing in on $100 million in seat sales for future flights.
As far as space travel goes, Blue Origin’s flight was a brief, up-and-down suborbital jaunt that reached just over 66.5 miles in altitude, a mere toe dip into the vastness of the cosmos that lasted just over ten minutes from launch to landing. However, for Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000, it was a significant milestone — the company’s first human spaceflight — and a statement that the company was establishing a foothold in a modern space race dominated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Bezos, 57, announced his participation in the flight last month, surprising few who are familiar with Bezos’s passion for space. According to him, Blue Origin is “the most critical work I’m doing.” And now that Bezos has stepped down as CEO of Amazon, many in the space industry anticipate that he will devote more time to his space venture, which has lofty ambitions but has lagged behind competitors.
It is vying for a piece of a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to fly astronauts to the moon, for example, a programme in which Bezos has a personal stake. He witnessed the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, which he describes as a “seminal” moment that sparked a lifelong interest in space exploration. He grew up devouring science fiction and binge-watching “Star Trek” reruns. He was so taken with the show that he named his dog Kamala, and the lobby of Blue Origin’s headquarters, just south of Seattle, is decorated with various space memorabilia, including a bullet-shaped rocket ship model inspired by Jules Verne.
He has stated that Amazon was the “lottery ticket” that enabled him to fund Blue Origin at a rate of $1 billion per year.
During a post-flight event billed as a news conference but featuring only three questions, Bezos stated, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and customer because you guys paid for this.”
He stated that his expectations for the flight were “extremely high, and they were far exceeded.”
“The zero G segment may have been one of the biggest surprises,” he said, because it felt so natural. “It was almost as if we evolved as humans to be in that environment, which I realise is impossible, but it felt so serene and nice and peaceful.”
Bezos said the crew brought a number of historical items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the Wright Flyer, the aeroplane flown by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903 for the first powered flight; a bronze medallion from the first hot air balloon to fly in 1783; and a pair of goggles worn by Amelia Earhart during her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Funk expressed delight at her time aboard the spacecraft, and in a video from the crew’s entry into space, she can be seen rising weightlessly from her seat. The crew brought ping-pong balls, which they floated around the capsule, and Bezos could be heard shouting, “Who wants a Skittle?” at one point. They then took turns attempting to stuff the candies into the mouths of one another.
“I adored it,” Funk declared. “The four of us had a fantastic time. It was magnificent. I’d like to return.” She added that she only wished the experience had been longer and that at times the capsule was too small to accommodate everyone performing somersaults and rolls simultaneously. “There wasn’t quite enough space for the four of us to do everything,” she explained.
Alan Shepard was the first American in space, flying on a suborbital trajectory during the Mercury programme in 1961. Shepard’s launch lasted more than 15 minutes and took him to an altitude of 116 miles. The flight was witnessed by Shepard’s daughters. Bezos stated that he was “honoured” to have them there and that honouring him and the early days of the space programme was a privilege.
Bezos began quietly acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas in the early 2000s, using corporate entities named after explorers to do so. There were companies such as Joliet Holdings and Cabot Enterprises, as well as partnerships such as the James Cook and William Clark Partnerships and Coronado Ventures.
All were connected to a Seattle firm called Zefram LLC, which was named after Zefram Cochrane, another “Star Trek” character. In 2003, while scouting the land, a helicopter carrying Bezos collided with a creek, flooding the cabin and preventing Bezos and his companions from fleeing.
He later told The Post, “It was harrowing.” “We were extremely fortunate. I still can’t believe we all walked away.”
Tuesday’s flight went much more smoothly. The rocket’s engines fired for nearly 212 minutes, propelling the capsule to a speed of approximately Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. The capsule then separated, allowing the crew of four to float around and take in views of the Earth below and the galaxy beyond through what Blue Origin claims are the largest windows ever flown in space.
Once it reached apogee, or the highest point, the capsule descended toward the Texas desert, softly landing beneath three parachutes. By a couple of minutes, the more aerodynamically shaped booster had beaten the capsule back to the ground, landing on a pad after re-igniting its engine to slow down.
Bezos emerged first, wearing a cowboy hat and hugging his mother. As they emerged, friends and family swarmed the newly minted astronauts, popping champagne and celebrating next to the capsule on the desert floor. “I wasn’t nervous at all, but my family was,” Bezos said following the flight.
Not only was it Bezos’s dream to travel to space, but also Funk’s. In the early 1960s, she was chosen to be a member of the Mercury 13, a group of women who participated in a privately funded programme modelled after NASA training for John Glenn and the Mercury 7. The programme was eventually cancelled, and none of the women were selected for the astronaut corps.
Funk went on to have an illustrious career as an aviator, flying more than 20,000 hours in a variety of aircraft. She was the Federal Aviation Administration’s first female inspector and the National Transportation Safety Board’s first female air safety investigator.
The final seat on the flight was to be auctioned off. The winner, who wishes to remain anonymous, paid $28 million for the opportunity to fly alongside Bezos, but Blue Origin announced last week that the individual was unable to attend due to “scheduling conflicts.”
This paved the way for Daemen, who plans to enrol in a Dutch college this fall. Blue Origin has declined to disclose the cost of the flight to Daemen, whose father owns an investment firm. However, the company stated that he was originally scheduled to participate in Blue Origin’s second launch following the auction but was bumped up due to the auction winner’s postponement.
Bezos also invited his brother, Mark, who is a philanthropist and volunteer firefighter in suburban New York.
Blue Origin has not yet announced the price of future flights on New Shepard to the general public. It has stated that it is offering premium prices for the first flights to those who bid in the auction, and on its live stream prior to Tuesday’s launch, it stated that it was receiving a large number of orders.
However, a suborbital space tourism business is just one of Blue Origin’s many initiatives aimed at realising Bezos’s long-term vision of “millions of people living and working in space.”
It is developing a much larger and more powerful rocket, dubbed New Glenn, capable of lifting large masses into orbit. Additionally, it is collaborating with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper on the development of a spacecraft capable of ferrying astronauts to and from the moon’s surface.
It won the initial round of NASA’s contracting process. However, NASA awarded SpaceX a $3 billion contract earlier this year for the agency’s first lunar landing mission under the Artemis programme. NASA has stated that it will hold a competition for future moon missions, but Blue Origin has complained to the Government Accountability Office about the contract award. That decision is expected in a couple of weeks and could rekindle the rivalry between Musk and Bezos, who have sparred over their space achievements over the years.
Blue Origin also recently launched an attack on Virgin Galactic following Branson’s announcement that he would accelerate his flight and reach space ahead of Bezos.
However, Bezos ended up wishing his adversary the best of luck. During a 2016 event, he stated, “Competition is extremely beneficial. And space is enormous. There is plenty of room for winners.”
(Only the headline, some content and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Mixpoint Team; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed. The meaning of the content has not been altered in any way.)