NEWS
20/07/2021 14:17 BST | Updated 20/07/2021 14:58 BST

Jeff Bezos Blasts Into Space With Travel Company Blue Origin

The billionaire Amazon founder was joined by his brother Mark, aerospace pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

It’s mission accomplished for Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, the billionaire Amazon founder’s space travel company that carried the oldest, the youngest and the richest humans to have ever flown in space.

Blue Origin’s fully automated New Shepard rocket blasted off Tuesday from West Texas carrying Bezos, the world’s richest person; his brother Mark Bezos; aerospace pioneer Wally Funk, 82; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands.

“You have a very happy crew up here, I want you to know,” a male’s voice could be heard saying as the rocket soared amid a chorus of “woo hoo” thrill-ride whoops.

Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Blue Origin’s New Shepard lifts-off from the launch pad carrying Jeff Bezos along with his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew are riding in the first human spaceflight for the company. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
 Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule descends on the end of its parachute system carrying Jeff Bezos along with his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew are riding in the first human spaceflight for the company. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The four passengers were given three to four minutes to unbuckle their seatbelts and float around the capsule once they neared the edge of space. 

The booster was the first to return to earth, completing a vertical landing at the launch pad roughly seven minutes after takeoff. The crew members and New Shepard landed softly, slowed by parachutes, a few minutes later.

Bezos was seen waving and giving a thumbs-up through a window of the capsule while preparing to disembark after successfully landing. The astronauts were enthusiastically greeted by friends, family, crew members and bottles of champagne. Among those present was Bezos’ girlfriend Lauren Sánchez.

 

The launch marked the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It comes just days after billionaire businessman Richard Branson on July 11 flew to the edge of space, an altitude of around 50 miles, before returning to earth. New Shepard aimed to hit an altitude of roughly 66 miles.

Daemen is Blue Origin’s first paying customer. Funk is finally getting her trip six decades after training with 12 other female pilots, known as Mercury 13, for such a ride in the early 1960s. Funk takes the title for oldest person to fly to space from the late astronaut John Glenn, who flew to space for the last time at the age of 77.

Tuesday’s launch is the first by Blue Origin to feature people on board. The company has been testing its rocket since 2012 and says it has had 15 successful consecutive launches, including three successful escape tests.

Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights this year.