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Mission accomplished: Bezos’ Blue Origin flight to space a success

Jul 20, 2021


Jeff Bezos’ long-awaited Blue Origin flight was a success Tuesday morning, as Amazon’s founder became the second billionaire to ride his own spacecraft in just over a week.

“Best day ever,” Bezos said after the capsule touched down at the end of the 10-minute flight. The video above shows the flight’s launch and landing.

Blue Origin took off from a remote area of West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Bezos was accompanied by his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas. The latter two are now the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

The 82-year-old, Wally Funk, was one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-male astronaut corps in the early 1960s, but never made it into space.

The teen, Oliver Daemen, was a last-minute fill-in for the mystery winner of a $28 million auction. They opted for a later flight. Daemen’s father took part in the auction and agreed on a lower undisclosed price last week when Blue Origin offered his son the vacated seat.

The passengers had several minutes of weightlessness to float around the capsule. It landed under parachutes, with Bezos and his guests briefly experiencing nearly six times the force of gravity, or 6 Gs, on the way back.

While Bezos’ choice of launch date was historically significant, it did put him behind Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson in the billionaire space race. Branson’s rocket took off from New Mexico earlier this month.

Unlike Branson’s rocket, Bezos’ capsule was completely automated and required no official staff on board.

Blue Origin also reached an altitude of about 66 miles, which is more than 10 miles higher than Branson’s July 11 ride.

Virgin Galactic already has more than 600 reservations at $250,000 apiece. The company has sent crew into space four times and plans two more test flights from New Mexico before launching customers next year.

Blue Origin’s approach was more deliberate. The capsule has had 15 successful unoccupied test flights to space since 2015. The Federal Aviation Administration approved of a commercial space license last week.

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s Elon Musk is skipping brief space hops, and sending his private clients straight to orbit for tens of millions of dollars apiece, with the first flight set for September.