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'Road to space': billionaire Bezos has successful suborbital jaunt

Stock MarketsJul 20, 2021 05:56PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon, speaks about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's SATELLITE 2017 conference in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts 2/2

By Eric M. Johnson

VAN HORN, Texas (Reuters) - Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, soared some 66.5 miles (107 km) above the Texas desert aboard his company Blue Origin's New Shepard https://graphics.reuters.com/SPACE-EXPLORATION/BLUEORIGIN/jbyprzzympe/blue-origin.jpg launch vehicle on Tuesday and returned safely to Earth, a historic suborbital flight that helps usher in a new era of space tourism.

"Best day ever," Bezos, accompanied by three crewmates including the world's oldest and youngest space travelers, said after his capsule descended with three large parachutes and touched down, kicking up a cloud of dust.

The 57-year-old American billionaire, donning a blue flight suit and cowboy hat, took a trip to the edge of space lasting 10 minutes and 10 seconds. After landing, Bezos and his crewmates exchanged hugs and popped champagne while roughly two dozen family members and company employees cheered.

"Astronaut Bezos in my seat - happy, happy, happy," Bezos told mission control during a safety check after the passengers buckled back in following a few minutes of weightlessness in space.

The fully autonomous 60-foot-tall (18.3-meters-tall) gleaming white spacecraft, with a feather design on its side, ignited its BE-3 engine for a vertical liftoff from Blue Origin's Launch Site One facility about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural town of Van Horn under mostly clear skies.

Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), and his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, were joined by two others. Pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/trailblazing-female-pilot-will-go-space-age-82-with-jeff-bezos-2021-07-01, 82, and recent high school graduate Oliver Daemen https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-blueorigin/teenager-to-fly-with-bezos-in-inaugural-space-tourism-flight-idUSKBN2EL1ZJ?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews, 18, became the oldest and youngest people to reach space.

"I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this," Bezos told reporters afterward.

The flight came nine days after Briton Richard Branson was aboard his competing space tourism venture Virgin Galactic's successful inaugural suborbital flight https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/virgin-galactics-branson-ready-space-launch-aboard-rocket-plane-2021-07-11 from New Mexico. The two flights give credibility and inject enthusiasm into the fledgling commercial space tourism industry, which Swiss bank UBS estimates will be worth $3 billion annually in a decade.

Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, said this first crewed space flight was a step toward developing a fleet of reusable spacecraft.

"We're going to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build a future," Bezos added. "... We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth."

Blue Origin plans for two more New Shepard passenger flights this year. Bezos said Blue Origin has not determined its pace of flights after that but is approaching $100 million in private sales.

"The demand is very, very high," Bezos said, adding: "Big things start small."

Bezos said his company is working "ferociously" toward being able to reuse New Shepard vehicles at least 100 times. The one used on Tuesday, twice previously flown to space, scored a bulls-eye landing on a nearby pad.

BACK FLIPS AND SKITTLES

New Shepard hurtled at speeds reaching 2,233 miles (3,595 km) per hour, exceeding the "Kármán line" - 62 miles (100 km) - set by an international aeronautics body to define the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space.

After the capsule separated from the booster, the crew unbuckled, performing back flips and tossing each other Skittles candy in weightlessness. The capsule then returned to Earth with parachutes, using a retro-thrust system expelling a "pillow of air" for a soft landing.

The launch represented another step in the fierce competition to forge a space tourism sector. In this "billionaire space race," Branson pierced Earth's atmosphere first, reaching an altitude of 53 miles (86 km) aboard his rocket-powered, pilot-flown spaceplane. Bezos flew higher in what experts called the world's first https://www.blueorigin.com/news-archive/first-human-flight-updates unpiloted space flight with an all-civilian crew.

Another billionaire tech mogul, Elon Musk, plans to send an all-civilian crew on a several-day orbital mission on his Crew Dragon capsule in September.

"Well done," Branson wrote on Twitter, congratulating Bezos and his crewmates.

Musk earlier wished https:// Blue Origin's crew "best of luck."

The flight came on the 52nd anniversary of Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin becoming the first humans to walk on the moon. New Shepard's namesake Alan Shepard in 1961 became the first American in space.

Funk was one of the so-called Mercury 13 group of women who trained to become NASA astronauts in the 1960s but was passed over because of her gender.

"I've been waiting a long time," Funk said afterward. "I want to go again - fast."

Daemen, Blue Origin's first paying customer, is set to study physics and innovation management at college in the Netherlands. His investment executive father embraced him after he emerged from the capsule.

"The most profound piece of it for me was looking out at the Earth and looking at the Earth's atmosphere," Bezos said, noting how the experience underscored the planet's beauty and fragility.

'Road to space': billionaire Bezos has successful suborbital jaunt
 

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Comments (16)
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jul 20, 2021 9:31PM ET
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maybe he can take his billionaire friends and leave earth for good
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Jul 20, 2021 4:05PM ET
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How about paying your taxes Bozo?
Todd Gray
Todd Gray Jul 20, 2021 3:44PM ET
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Everybody has to pollute less, so this guy can pollute while he plays astronaut.
Klaus Weyers
Klaus Weyers Jul 20, 2021 1:02PM ET
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well done.. space entrepreneurs.. your dedication will one day save mankind..
Todd Gray
Todd Gray Jul 20, 2021 1:02PM ET
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It is the system of misery we are born into that impels man to seek asylum off this planet. Is mankind worth saving, considering his way is the source of wanting to escape it?
Bonney Lake
Bonney Lake Jul 20, 2021 12:38PM ET
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I thought his happiest day was when he divorced his wife and gave out half of the money...
Hunt Richardson
Hunt Richardson Jul 20, 2021 12:07PM ET
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tell it to the flat earthers
Matt Kay
Matt Kay Jul 20, 2021 11:43AM ET
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I wish only negative things upon this man.
Kate Davis
Kate Davis Jul 20, 2021 11:26AM ET
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None cares what he does. #boycottAmazon
Whaling Trawler
Whaling Trawler Jul 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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I will truly respect Jeff Bezos if he sheds all the things he possess and hands out all his money to the average man on the street. Not to some dark and sinister radical globalist environmental group but to me and to you and the Bob down the street. Do it Jeff!!
Tony Sir
Tony Sir Jul 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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guess where that money will end up within a year 🤪. you average bob
Eloy Rodrigo
Eloy Rodrigo Jul 20, 2021 11:14AM ET
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to the richer ones again and, this is why many of them call for a minimum universal income from state, they will get them all into their pockets.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Jul 20, 2021 11:05AM ET
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Why is this news? He is not first, not even in the top 10
Jokers R Us
Jokers R Us Jul 20, 2021 11:05AM ET
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the media desperately want bezos to replace musk
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Jul 20, 2021 10:00AM ET
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I thought he’s is staying. What a bummer
Truth Trader
Truth Trader Jul 20, 2021 9:41AM ET
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Congrats Jeff! You did what others only dream of.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jul 20, 2021 8:46AM ET
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What is it worth a man to gain the whole world yet loose his soul.
Bran Hollywood
Bran Hollywood Jul 20, 2021 8:20AM ET
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Poof..... DMFDMFD
Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood Jul 20, 2021 5:14AM ET
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Cooooome on space debris!!!!!
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jul 20, 2021 1:43AM ET
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This guy is in it to make money. He is not about the enviroment. The next big thing could be space. U can make a boatload of money just because u r first.
andy matalobos
andy matalobos Jul 20, 2021 1:43AM ET
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Another ego trip with expensive toys to accomplish absolutely nothing..........
IceIce Baby
IceIceBaby Jul 20, 2021 1:43AM ET
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andy matalobos  But you, as an ordinary human being, reduce your environmental footprint by a thousand ways.
 
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