Liftoff! Jeff Bezos And 3 Crewmates Travel To Space And Back In Under 15 Minutes
Wearing a cowboy hat under the West Texas morning sun, Jeff Bezos crossed the bridge to enter the capsule made by his company Blue Origin. He was accompanied by three others – his brother Mark Bezos, female aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
Then the shuttle hatch closed and just before 9:15 a.m. ET, the four blasted into space on the first human flight on Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle.
Bezos is the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space: Richard Branson rocketed there last week aboard a vessel made by his company Virgin Galactic.
The date of the New Shepard's maiden launch is no accident: July 20 was the day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
The crew will travel 62 miles above Earth
The New Shepard suborbital flight path is designed to go higher than the Kármán Line, which is often considered the boundary of space: about 62 miles above Earth.
That line has been a sticking point in the space race between Bezos and Branson.
Branson's SpaceShipTwo hit a peak altitude of around 282,000 feet – higher than NASA's designated Earth-Space boundary of 50 miles, but short of the Kármán Line.
The start of a space tourism era
The launch is a big day for Bezos, but it's primarily an advertisement for Blue Origin's space tourism program. The company's webcast touted that interested viewers should get in touch about booking a spot on a future Blue Origin flight.
Two more flights are scheduled for 2021.
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