Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 57, has a new title to add to his resume: Astronaut.
Bezos successfully flew to the edge of space on Tuesday aboard a rocket and capsule developed by his private spaceflight company, Blue Origin. The billionaire entrepreneur made history by participating in the first unmanned suborbital flight with a fully civilian crew. The highly anticipated trip was also the first crewed launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
Bezos was launched into space around 9:11 a.m.ET Tuesday from a site in the West Texas desert, southeast of El Paso. After takeoff, the New Shepard rocket accelerated into space at three times the speed of sound. At an altitude of 250,000 feet, the capsule split apart, taking Bezos and his crew to the edge of space. The craft then descended under a parachute and landed again in the Texas desert. The whole flight lasted about 10 minutes.
Both the rocket and the New Shepard capsule are designed to be reusable.
Bezos’ launch came just nine days after another billionaire, British entrepreneur Richard Branson, flew to the edge of space in a rocket-propelled vehicle designed by his own company space tourism agency, Virgin Galactic. The two flights – combined with competition between rival billionaires – have garnered global attention and sparked interest and enthusiasm for the nascent space tourism industry.
In an interview Monday on NBC’s “TODAY”, he described his wait for the trip.
“I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be. People who go to space say they come back changed, “Bezos told” TODAY “co-host Hoda Kotb.” I can’t wait to see what it does to me. “
Her brother Mark and Wally Funk, 82, a former test pilot who was one of 13 Mercury women who trained in the 1960s to demonstrate that women could qualify for the Astronaut Corps of the NASA joined Bezos on the flight. Funk is now the oldest person to reach space.
The four-person crew was completed by Oliver Daemen, 18, of the Netherlands, who now holds the title of youngest astronaut.
Bezos’ flight was a suborbital jaunt, meaning he and his crew didn’t actually orbit Earth. Rather, the capsule reached the edge of space, at an altitude of about 65 miles, where the passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness.