Blue Origin owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was finally able to realize his dream of flying to the edge of space on a rocket.
On board a suborbital New Shepard rocket, Blue Origin took off from West Texas on Tuesday, July 20, just after 8 a.m. CT (6 a.m. PT / 9 a.m. ET). At 82, he is the oldest person to ever travel to space is, and the 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen, who is the youngest person to have accomplished the same feat.
Exactly as planned, the New Shepard booster climbed to an altitude of about 47 miles (250,000 feet / 76,200 meters) before using the capsule for its ride to just over the Kármán Line, a limit of 62 miles (327,000 feet) above the Earth, released releasing that is commonly considered to be the limit of outer space. On this flight, the capsule reached 66.5 miles (351,210 feet / 107,048 meters).
At its summit, which is about seven times higher than a commercial passenger jet, passengers were able to detach from their seats and enjoy several minutes of weightlessness while enjoying a breathtaking view of our home planet.
After the crew were safely back in their seats, they descended to earth for a parachute landing, the capsule touching down about 10 minutes after take-off. Minutes earlier, the reusable New Shepard Booster also made a perfect upright landing on the launch site.
Blue Origin’s successful mission paves the way for the launch of a space tourism service that offers high paying passengers the same experience.
It will compete with Virgin Galactic, whose billionaire owner Richard Branson recently rode the company’s first fully-manned suborbital flight. A seat on a Virgin Galactic flight costs $ 250,000, with a commercial service expected to launch next year. Blue Origin, whose flight is about 10 miles higher than Virgin Galactic’s but offers a similar experience in terms of views and weightlessness, has yet to announce ticket prices for its own service.
In response to critics who say the so-called “Billionaire Space Race” is simply about rich people wasting large sums of money on an extravagant ride, Bezos said in a recent interview that he and others can build the necessary infrastructure to support it Lowering the cost of space travel will give more people the chance to use space to “create amazing things that will improve life here on earth”.