Jeff Bezos successfully traveled to space on Tuesday morning (July 20), blasting off at 6 a.m. PST and safely returning to Earth about 11 minutes later. The billionaire Amazon founder and his New Shepard rocket crew took off from the West Texas desert, USA Today reports.
The trip was live-streamed by several outlets and Bezos and his crew experienced a few minutes of weightlessness along with seeing spectacular views of Earth from space. Seven minutes after liftoff, the booster rocket touched back down smoothly and the craft with Bezos and his team — consisting of his brother Mark Bezos, test pilot Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen — landed by parachute shortly after.
According to USA Today, this is the 16th flight for the New Shepard, but it's the first to include people. Bezos hopes to turn trips like these into a profitable business through his space tourism company, Blue Origin. The company is planning two more flights like this later this year.
“Liftoff! #NewShepard has cleared the tower with Jeff, Mark, Wally and Oliver on board,” Blue Origin tweeted on Tuesday.
The company intends to send travelers 66 miles above Earth, which is widely recognized as the threshold of space and is past the 62-mile Karman line. Tickets reportedly go for $200,000 per seat or more.
Tuesday also marked the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Wally, Bezos’ 82-year-old test pilot, was one of the original Mercury 13 women who took part in NASA training back during the 60s to prove that women could become astronauts. She was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first woman Federal Aviation Agency inspector and, on Tuesday, became the oldest person to travel to space.
See videos and tweets about Bezos’ New Shepard rocket trip below.
Congratulations to the @BlueOrigin team, the Bezos brothers, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk on a well-deserved trip to space!— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) July 20, 2021
Congratulations to the @BlueOrigin team on the first human flight of #NewShepard! We look forward to future flights with researchers and NASA-supported technology payloads aboard. https://t.co/1kiQ1NgNG3— NASA (@NASA) July 20, 2021