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Wearing a cowboy hat in the morning West Texas sun, Jeff Bezos crossed the bridge to enter the capsule made by his company Blue Origin. He was accompanied by three other people – his brother Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, 18.
Then the shuttle hatch closed and just before 9:15 a.m.ET, all four exploded in space during the first human flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launcher.
Bezos is the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space: Richard Branson flew there last week aboard a ship made by his company Virgin Galactic.
The date of the New Shepard’s inaugural 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
New Shepard’s suborbital flight path is designed to go higher than the Kármán Line, which is often considered the limit of space: about 100 km above Earth.
This line has been a sticking point in the space race between Bezos and Branson.
Branson’s SpaceShipTwo reached a maximum altitude of about 282,000 feet – higher than the NASA-designated Earth-Space limit of 50 miles, but below the Kármán Line.
The beginning of an era of space tourism
The launch is a big day for Bezos, but it’s mostly an advertisement for Blue Origin’s space tourism program. The company’s webcast announced that interested viewers should contact us to reserve a seat on a future Blue Origin flight.
Two more flights are scheduled for 2021.