On Tuesday, billionaire Jeff Bezos launched his rocket ship, New Shepard, into orbit for the first time with a crew.
Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old space pioneer, and an 18-year-old student accompanied Jeff Bezos. They flew in a spacecraft with the largest windows ever flown in orbit, providing breathtaking vistas of the planet. After a 10-minute, 10-second journey, all four passengers have safely returned to Earth.
The New Shepard spacecraft, created by Bezos’ company Blue Origin, is aimed at the expanding space tourism business. “Astronaut Bezos [his callsign]: Best day ever!” Bezos declared after the spacecraft landed. The capsule detached from its rocket two minutes into the flight and continued onward, 100 kilometers above the ground, towards the Karman Line, the most generally recognized boundary of space.
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The passengers felt weightless for around four minutes and were free to unbuckle from their chairs to float around and take in the vistas of our world below. The astronauts could be heard yelling “wow!” and cheering when the spacecraft cleared the Karman Line. Ms Funk was a member of the Mercury 13, a group of women that formed in the 1960s. They were subjected to the same screening procedures as male astronauts, but they were never selected to journey into space.
On Monday, Mr. Bezos told CBS News: “Wally is faster than the rest of us. She was better than all the men during the Mercury 13, and I can assure you that this is still true today.” Jeff Bezos just stepped down as CEO of Amazon, the e-commerce powerhouse he established, to focus on his other businesses, including Blue Origin.
The fourth passenger is the son of Dutch private equity company Somerset Capital Partners founder Joes Daemen. Oliver had previously reserved a seat on the second trip, but was called in to fill in for an anonymous public auction winner.
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