Jeff Bezos lifted off into space on Tuesday, in Blue Origin’s first crewed flight of its New Shepard rocket.
Blue Origin hosted a live webcast of the launch from Site One in West Texas, where Bezos and three other passengers boarded the New Shepard craft for its first human spaceflight. The crew blasted to the lower reaches of space on their short trip, as the rocket successfully made its 100km journey above the Kármán line shortly after 6am Pacific on July 20.Image credit: Blue Origin
Bezos was accompanied on the voyage by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an aerospace pioneer, and Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teenager who bid for a seat on the rocket at auction. The four of them were seated in a capsule that separated from the rocket during the flight, giving them 3-4 minutes of weightlessness before strapping back in for their return to Earth.
According to Ars Technica, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith confirmed prior to launch that this particular capsule and rocket had made two flights previously, though both without passengers. Engineers completed a “Flight Readiness Review” over the weekend whilst the crew participated in around 14 hours of training to prepare for the entirely autonomous flight.
Funk was part of the Mercury 13 program back in the 1960s. The program trained women to go to space, but it was ultimately cancelled and Funk was never accepted by NASA. However, now, at the age of 82, she has become the oldest astronaut to have ever flown into space, right alongside Daemen who is the youngest to achieve the feat, at just 18 years of age.
Blue Origin’s launch comes nine days after Sir Richard Branson successfully reached the edge of space aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane. Bezos congratulated Branson and his crew on Instagram, saying he couldn’t wait to “join the club.” Bezos’ Blue Origin reportedly plans to fly two more customer flights in 2021.
SpaceX successfully launched its first crewed flight into space last year. Elon Musk has since announced plans to launch a satellite to the moon next year, fully funded by dogecoin, but not before he’s raced remote-controlled cars on the lunar surface. There are also plans to return to the moon in 2024, and Musk’s company is building the lunar lander for that.
Adele Ankers is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.