The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, took an 11-minute supersonic joy ride to space and back on Tuesday morning aboard the rocket and capsule system developed by his space company, Blue Origin.
Bezos’ brother, Mark Bezos, was on board, as was Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women who trained to go to space in the twentieth century but never got to fly; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate who was Blue Origin’s first paying customer and whose ticket was purchased by his father, an investor.
Funk and Daemen became the oldest and youngest people to travel to space, respectively. This was also the first crewed mission for Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism rocket, which the company plans to use in the months and years ahead to take wealthy thrill seekers on high-flying joy rides.
The Blue Origin capsule lifts off from the ground, carrying Jeff Bezos and his crew.
The four passengers were strapped into their New Shepard crew capsule at Blue Origin’s launch site in rural West Texas on Tuesday just before the rocket lit its engines at 8:12 a.m. CT, sending the vehicle blazing past the speed of sound and up to an altitude of 351,210 feet above the desert landscape. Passengers were weightless for about three minutes at the apex of the flight path and were allowed to disembark from their seats to float around and take in panoramic views of the Earth and the cosmos.
Reporters on the ground were able to see the launch, which saw the rocket streak across the almost cloudless Texas sky with a blooming contrail. As it rose into the sky, the rocket engine’s bright blaze resembled a star or planet. During the microgravity portion of the flight, Bezos and the crew could be heard cheering on Blue Origin’s livestream as they moved around the capsule.
“Oh my word, it’s dark up here!” Funk could be heard saying. Bezos declared it “the best day ever” on his communications check upon landing.