Banhorn, Texas (AP) —Jeff Bezos jumped into space on Tuesday on his first flight at a rocket company, becoming the second millionaire to board his spacecraft in just over a week.
The founders of Amazon were accompanied by a carefully selected group. His brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas, is the youngest and oldest in space flight history.
“The best day ever!” Bezos said when the capsule landed on the desert floor at the end of a 10-minute flight.
Named after the first American astronaut, the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket is far away on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the date Bezos chose for its historical significance. Soared from West Texas. Even when Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic pushed up his own flight from New Mexico in search of space traveler dollars and beat him into space by the 9th, he stuck to it.
Unlike Branson’s pilot rocket-powered aircraft, the Bezos capsule was fully automated and did not require official staff to fly up and down.
Blue Origin has reached an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), which is more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot (18-meter) booster accelerated to three or three times the speed of sound, raising the capsule sufficiently, then separating and standing upright.
Passengers were weightless for a few minutes to float around a spacious white capsule. The window-filled capsule landed under a parachute, and Bezos and his guests experienced nearly six times gravity on their way home, or 6G, for a short time.
Led by Bezos, they hugged their parents, partners and children, touched down with a wide smile, then stepped out of the capsule, opened a bottle of sparkling wine and sprayed on each other.
It was Wally Funk in the Dallas region who shared the adventure of realizing Bezos’ dreams. It is one of 13 female pilots who underwent the same tests as all NASA male space squadrons in the early 1960s, but never reached space.
Joining them in the ultimate Joyride was Oliver Damen, the company’s first paying customer. This is a last-minute entry for the mysterious winner of the $ 28 million auction that chose a later flight. A Dutch teenage father took part in an auction and agreed to lower private prices when Blue Origin offered his son a vacant seat last week.
“I got goose bumps,” said Angel Elera after the capsule landed. “The hair behind my neck stood up and just witnessed history.”
Elera, who lives in El Paso, was one of the dozens who saw the launch from Van Horn High School, about 25 miles (40 km) away.
Founded by Bezos in 2000 in Kent, Washington, near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, Blue Origin has not disclosed the price of a ride into space. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said two more passenger flights are planned by the end of the year.
The recycled rockets and capsules that carried passengers on Tuesday were used in the last two space demonstrations, according to company officials.
Virgin Galactic has already made over 600 bookings for $ 250,000 per transaction. Founded by Branson in 2004, the company has sent its crew four times into space and plans two more test flights from New Mexico before launching customers next year.
Blue Origin’s approach was slower and more cautious. After successful 15 test flights into open space since 2015, Bezos has finally declared it time to embark people. The Federal Aviation Administration agreed last week to approve a commercial space license.
Bezos, 57, who also owns the Washington Post, claimed his first seat. Next we went to his 50-year-old brother, investor and volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos, and funk and damen. They spent two days training together.
The University of Chicago space historian Jordan Bim said the passenger composition is truly remarkable. Imagine the head of NASA deciding to launch in 1961 instead of Alan Shepard in the first US space flight, he said in an email.
“It wouldn’t have been possible!” Bim said. “This shows how much the idea of who uses what kind of space has changed over the last 60 years.”
Bezos resigned as Amazon’s CEO earlier this month and last week donated $ 200 million to refurbish the National Air and Space Museum. Most of the $ 28 million from the auction has been distributed to space advocacy and educational groups, with the rest helping Blue Origin’s future clubs and their own educational activities.
Less than 600 people have reached the edge of the universe or beyond. Until Tuesday, the youngest was the 25-year-old Soviet astronaut Gherman Titov, and the oldest at the age of 77 was the astronaut John Glenn, who turned from Mercury to the shuttle.
Both Bezos and Branson want to significantly increase these overall numbers. SpaceX’s Elon Musk skips short space hops and sends private clients directly into the orbit of tens of millions of people per person, with the first flight scheduled for September.
Despite their appearance, Bezos and Branson claim they had not attempted to outperform each other by tying themselves up. Bezos said this week that only one person can claim to be the first in the universe. This is Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet astronaut who jumped into orbit on April 12, 1961.
“It’s not a competition. It’s about paving the way for space for future generations to do great things in space,” he said in NBC’s “Today.”
Blue Origin is working on a giant rocket, New Glenn, to get payloads and people into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company also wants to bring astronauts back to the moon on the proposed lunar module, the blue moon. It challenges NASA’s only contract award to SpaceX.
AP reporter Sean Murphy contributed to this report.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
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