VAN HORN, Texas — Jeff Bezos is the world’s most wealthy person, and now the first to hold that title while not on the Earth.
Blue Origin launched him into spaceflight history on Tuesday, with Bezos riding his company’s first crewed New Shepard rocket, alongside his brother and the oldest and youngest people to ever have flown in space.
After touchdown, Bezos reflected on realizing his long-awaited dream of flying in space.
“Best day ever!” he said.
This photo provided by Blue Origin, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifts off Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The rocket is carrying passengers Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk.
Blue Origin | AP
The capsule carrying the Blue Origin crew accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound before it reached 80 kilometers (or about 262,000 feet), the boundary the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The crew floated in microgravity for a couple minutes, before the capsule returned and landed under a set of parachutes.
The launch marked Blue Origin’s entrance into the market of private spaceflight, joining Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — its direct competitor in the sector of suborbital tourism — and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
In addition to his singular net worth, Bezos, 57, is also the only space founder to ride the first crewed flight of his company. While SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have launched astronauts before, Bezos is the first to put himself on the inaugural crew flight.
Floating next to him: Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, 18 — respectively the oldest and youngest humans to ever fly in space — and Bezos’ brother, Mark, 53.
Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc, his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and recent Dutch high school graduate Oliver Daemen pose in an undated photograph, ahead of their scheduled flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket near Van Horn, Texas, U.S.
Blue Origin | Reuters
Bezos invited his brother and Funk, a female aerospace pioneer, to join the flight. Daemen was a late addition. His seat was originally part of a public auction, but the auction’s winner, an anonymous person who bid $28 million to fly with Bezos, was unable to make the July 20 launch date. Daemen’s father, Joes, CEO of a private equity firm in the Netherlands, was also a bidder, with Daemen scheduled to fly on Blue Origin’s second crew launch as a paying passenger. When the mystery bidder backed out, the company moved Daemen up to the first launch.
Tuesday’s launch also came on another historic milestone — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
New Shepard’s launch represents a milestone in its progress toward Bezos’ vision. He founded Blue Origin with the goal to create “a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth.”
The New Shepard rocket and the capsule that rides atop it are reusable, capable of launching, landing, and launching again multiple times. The rocket system is in many ways a pathfinder for Blue Origin’s other, larger scale projects — such as its orbital New Glenn rocket.