Jeff Bezos launched into space today aboard his very own rocket as his company, Blue Origin successfully completed its first mission with people on board.
Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon, took off with his brother Mark, a teenager from the Netherlands and 82-year-old space pioneer Wally Funk shortly after 9am ET Tuesday from Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas. That crew included the youngest and oldest people to ever fly into space.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) July 20, 2021
The launch of the New Shepard rocket, named after Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space, occurred on the 52nd anniversary of the historic moon landing of Apollo 11. Funk trained to go into space during NASA’s nascent days during the Space Age, but back then there was no program to train female astronauts, so she had seemingly lost her chance to visit space.
The rocket reached an altitude of about 66 miles above the Earth, which is about 10 miles higher than billionaire Richard Branson’s rocket flight reached back on July 11. It hit speeds above 1200 miles per hour on its ascent. After the reusable rocket booster was detached, the detached capsule returned to earth safely.
Congratulations to all of Team Blue past and present on reaching this historic moment in spaceflight history. This first astronaut crew wrote themselves into the history books of space, opening the door through which many after will pass. #GradatimFerociter #NSFirstHumanFlight
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 20, 2021
The New Shepard capsule is fully automated, so no trained flight crew was needed for the flight, which lasted about 10 minutes. By contrast, Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate its mission.
Bezos was dressed in a blue flight suit and cowboy hat as he rode to the launch pad with his fellow passengers. The Associated Press reports he waved to the cheering crowd gathered along the road.
Bezos’ trip follows 15 successful test flights to space by New Shepard rockets since 2015, all of them unoccupied.
Blue Origin intends to launch two more passenger flights by year’s end.