Jeff Bezos made it to space on Tuesday. And back.
Bezos and a small group of travelers, which includes his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, completed Blue Origin’s first crewed flight to space. Funk became the oldest person to travel to space, and Daemen became the youngest.
Check out the launch starting around 1:43:03 in the video below.
A New Shepard rocket from Bezos’ Blue Origin lifted off from the desert in Van Horn, Texas, at 8:11 a.m. CT, blazing up more than 62 miles through clear blue skies. Toward the peak of the flight, the dome-like cabin carrying the crew detached from the rocket booster as planned, hovering above the Earth.
The scene inside the cabin was not shown during the Livestream, but viewers could hear the audio inside as the astronauts cheered, marveled at the views, and shared some Skittles in zero gravity.
The reusable rocket booster made it back to the ground with a controlled, soft landing while the cabin floated down to the ground with a trio of huge parachutes. In all, the trip took just over 10 minutes.
That was incredible!” exclaimed Jeff Bezos from the cabin after landing. After exiting the cabin, the smiling astronauts shared hugs with the small, gathering crowd before celebrating with a bottle of champagne.
With a mild morning in West Texas, only a short delay, and no noted mechanical issues, the launch went about as flawlessly as it could have.
Blue Origin and Bezos’s spaceflight came a little over a week after Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed SpaceShipTwo flight, which similarly featured its billionaire founder, Richard Branson.
Well done @blueorigin, @jeffbezos, Mark, Wally and Oliver. Impressive! Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 20, 2021
Originally, the Blue Origin flight was supposed to include the buyer of a $28 million ticket sold at auction. The wealthy buyer was replaced by Daemen, Blue Origin announced on Thursday, citing “scheduling conflicts” — despite the fact that the July 20 launch date had been set for months. The mysterious auction winner still has not been revealed and will fly on a future trip.
For Funk, the trip to space came 60 years after she passed the rigorous physical and mental tests designed for NASA astronauts held through the unofficial Women in Space Program. Women were not admitted into NASA’s astronaut program until the late ’70s, but Funk was still not permitted because she didn’t have an engineering degree or test pilot experience. Funk is still a legendary aviator, logging 19,600 flying hours over her career. Now she can start tallying up how much time she’s spent in space.
Blue Origin said that there will be two more flights in 2021. The company has not announced any specifics like dates or crew lists, nor has it exposed the regular ticket price for its New Shepard trips.