Jeff Bezos along with three other crew members safely touchdown after Blue Origin’s first crewed flight to space with passengers aboard which is a key milestone in the company’s effort to make space tourism accessible to the general public – who can afford it.
The Blue Origin’s capsule touched down in Test Texas around 8:22 AM local time on Tuesday after 10 minutes of launch aboard the New Shepard rocket.
Though a short trip, the crew enjoyed a few moments of weightlessness as the space capsule pushed its boundaries past the karman line at an altitude of about 62 miles or 100km above the planet before parachuting back to earth.
“Best day ever,” Bezos said on a livestream of the suborbital flight provided by Blue Origin, shortly before the capsule landed.
Onboard the space capsule was Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man and also three other individuals such as his Brother, an 18-year-old Dutch high school grad Oliver Daemen (the youngest person in space) and a former astronaut trainee Wally Funk who is also the oldest person to travel to space at 82.
The success of the mission caps a landmark month for space-tourism companies as UK billionaire Richard Branson set the precedence when he flew to the edge of space on the Virgin Galactic’s space plane just this past week.
With the success of the trip, both companies are set to expand operations with plans to entice the rich to pay big money to have the unique experience of seeing the space for what it is.
“Impressive!” Branson said in a tweet after the Blue Origin trip. “Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic.”
Blue Origin built suspense around the flight with a well-publicized auction. An anonymous bidder offered $28 million to fly alongside Bezos, but what Blue Origin described as a timing conflict left an opening for Daemen.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic on the other flew to a lower altitude of 53.5 miles above Earth where the crew members experienced weightlessness
Highly publicized excursions by their billionaire founders are likely to serve as a vote of confidence in the safety of the joy rides the companies want to sell to wealthy tourists.
Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, and Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut sales, talk about customer demand for flights. They spoke in Texas where Jeff Bezos and three others plan to blast off from on Tuesday in the New Shepard rocket.
The world’s richest man Jeff Bezos who is only 57 said he’s been planning on traveling to space since he was 5-year-old prior to founding Amazon as an online book store in Seattle back in 1994 before turning the business into a general-purpose enterprise and in turn, he’s the wealthiest person on the planet with a net worth well over US$200 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.
In order to fund his dreams, he sold some Amazon stocks to fund Blue Origin based in kent, Washington with about 3,500 employees where rockets are built to send satellites to space.
Branson’s flight earlier this month stole some thunder from Bezos’ launch and prompted social-media jousting. Blue Origin dissed the Virgin Galactic flight in a July 9 tweet, calling it a “high altitude airplane” with puny windows. Blue Origin says it has the biggest windows in space. On Monday, Virgin Galactic on Twitter wished the Blue Origin team a “successful and safe flight.”
The ultimate goal of both space companies is to make space tourism accessible to the general public who can afford it and Virgin Galactic is offering a seat to a lucky winner at Omaze for its next flight.