Tony Gutierrez / AP
On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered his famous phrase on the moon: “This is a step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” And 52 years later to the day, Jeff Bezos or his brother asked as their crew reached weightlessness, “Who wants a bowling pin?”
On Tuesday morning, the team took off from the desert near Van Horn, Texas, and entered space aboard the New Shepard, created by Bezos’ Blue Origin company.
The flight of just over 10 minutes made Jeff Bezos the second billionaire to enter space, taking Bezos brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old son of the millionaire Oliver Daemen. (A few days earlier, Richard Branson traveled to the edge of space aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.)
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An elated crew could be heard screaming for joy in the background throughout the flight. Several cries of “Woo!” and “Woo-hoo!” could be heard as they passed the Kármán Line considered the edge of space.
Once weightlessness is reached, Bezos can be heard asking the team if they want a bowling pin. After several seconds passed, the entire capsule erupted into festive cheers.
One of the most expressive passengers on board was Funk, 82. “Oh Jeff, look at them, it’s dark in here!” She said during the flight.
Probably looking out the window at the Earth below, she said, “Oh my word, look at the world!”
“There is a very happy group of people on this capsule,” Bezos said at ground control, followed by a status update: “Happy, happy, happy.”
“Well, that was intense!” said one of the Bezos brothers as they came down.
Tony Gutierrez / AP
When the capsule made its return to Earth and made contact with the ground, a status update summed up the feelings of each astronaut at that time.
Status, Oliver Daemen: “Great.”
Status, Wally Funk: “Everything will be fine.
Status, Mark Bezos: “I’m incredibly good.”
Jeff Bezos Status: “The best day ever.”
Josie Fischels is an intern at the NPR News Desk.