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Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

Jeff Bezos  launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

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Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

'Historic moment': Jeff Bezos reaches space, returns to Earth in Blue … Mon, 19 Jul 2021 19:00:00 -0700-Billionaire Jeff Bezos has launched into space in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship.

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Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship

By Paul Rincon
Science editor, BBC News website

Billionaire Jeff Bezos blasted into space on Tuesday, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard.

He was accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student.

They travelled in a capsule with the biggest windows flown in space, offering stunning views of the Earth.

New Shepard, built by Bezos' company Blue Origin, is designed to serve the burgeoning market for space tourism.

The passengers included the oldest person who has been to space – Ms Funk – and the youngest, student Oliver Daemen.

The spacecraft lifted off at 14:12 BST (09:12 EDT) from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas. They parachuted back down to the West Texas desert 11 minutes later.

After the capsule touched down, Bezos said: “Astronaut Bezos [his callsign]: Best day ever!”

image copyrightBlue Origin
image captionFrom left: Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk

Two minutes into the flight, the capsule separated from its rocket and continued upwards towards the Karman Line – the most widely recognised boundary of space, 100km up.

The passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness, and were able to unstrap from their seats to float around and enjoy the views of our planet far below.

The astronauts could be heard cheering in the capsule as it passed the Karman Line.

image copyrightBllue Origin
image captionThe moment the capsule touched down in the West Texas desert

“Oh my word, look at the world,” Ms Funk said as she marvelled at the views.

Before the flight, she had said she was looking forward to performing somersaults and tumbles in microgravity.

In the 1960s, Ms Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13. They underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but never got to fly into space.

Mr Bezos said: “Wally can outrun all of us. During the Mercury 13, she was better than all the men and I can guarantee that's still true today.”

After the capsule reached a maximum altitude of around 106km (350,000ft), it began its descent, parachuting down to a soft landing in the desert.

After touching down, Mark Bezos said: “I am unbelievably good.”

Bezos recently resigned as chief executive of Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded, in order to concentrate on his other ventures, including Blue Origin.

His brother Mark, 53, is a senior vice president at Robin Hood, a New York-based charity.

The fourth passenger is the son of financier Joes Daemen, who founded Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners. Oliver had originally secured a seat on the second flight, but was drafted in to replaced the anonymous winner of a public auction.

This unnamed winner, who paid $28m (£20m) to join Bezos on New Shepard's first crewed flight, had to pull out “due to scheduling conflicts”.

Bezos and Branson have been criticised on social media, with users arguing the money for space could be put to better use – such as tackling climate change or helping the world recover from the pandemic.

Sir Richard has addressed the criticism, saying: “I can understand it, but I think maybe they're not fully educated to what space does for Earth.”

He explained that satellites were monitoring “the degradation of the rainforests, monitoring food distribution – even things like climate change,” adding: “We need more spaceships going up to space, we don't need less.”

media captionWatch Sir Richard Branson's flight to the edge of space (and back)

By Paul Rincon
Science editor, BBC News website

Billionaire Jeff Bezos blasted into space on Tuesday, in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship, New Shepard.

He was accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneer of the space race, and an 18-year-old student.

They travelled in a capsule with the biggest windows flown in space, offering stunning views of the Earth.

New Shepard, built by Bezos' company Blue Origin, is designed to serve the burgeoning market for space tourism.

The passengers included the oldest person who has been to space – Ms Funk – and the youngest, student Oliver Daemen.

The spacecraft lifted off at 14:12 BST (09:12 EDT) from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas. They parachuted back down to the West Texas desert 11 minutes later.

After the capsule touched down, Bezos said: “Astronaut Bezos [his callsign]: Best day ever!”

image copyrightBlue Origin
image captionFrom left: Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk

Two minutes into the flight, the capsule separated from its rocket and continued upwards towards the Karman Line – the most widely recognised boundary of space, 100km up.

The passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness, and were able to unstrap from their seats to float around and enjoy the views of our planet far below.

The astronauts could be heard cheering in the capsule as it passed the Karman Line.

image copyrightBllue Origin
image captionThe moment the capsule touched down in the West Texas desert

“Oh my word, look at the world,” Ms Funk said as she marvelled at the views.

Before the flight, she had said she was looking forward to performing somersaults and tumbles in microgravity.

In the 1960s, Ms Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13. They underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but never got to fly into space.

Mr Bezos said: “Wally can outrun all of us. During the Mercury 13, she was better than all the men and I can guarantee that's still true today.”

After the capsule reached a maximum altitude of around 106km (350,000ft), it began its descent, parachuting down to a soft landing in the desert.

After touching down, Mark Bezos said: “I am unbelievably good.”

Bezos recently resigned as chief executive of Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded, in order to concentrate on his other ventures, including Blue Origin.

His brother Mark, 53, is a senior vice president at Robin Hood, a New York-based charity.

The fourth passenger is the son of financier Joes Daemen, who founded Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners. Oliver had originally secured a seat on the second flight, but was drafted in to replaced the anonymous winner of a public auction.

This unnamed winner, who paid $28m (£20m) to join Bezos on New Shepard's first crewed flight, had to pull out “due to scheduling conflicts”.

Bezos and Branson have been criticised on social media, with users arguing the money for space could be put to better use – such as tackling climate change or helping the world recover from the pandemic.

Sir Richard has addressed the criticism, saying: “I can understand it, but I think maybe they're not fully educated to what space does for Earth.”

He explained that satellites were monitoring “the degradation of the rainforests, monitoring food distribution – even things like climate change,” adding: “We need more spaceships going up to space, we don't need less.”

media captionWatch Sir Richard Branson's flight to the edge of space (and back)


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Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard New Shepard rocket ship Mon, 19 Jul 2021 19:00:00 -0700-Billionaire Jeff Bezos and his New Shepard rocket crew returned safely to Earth after blasting off Tuesday from the West Texas desert.

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‘Historic moment’: Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin rocket touch down after historic spaceflight

July 20, 2021

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  • Blue Origin intends to send tourists past the so-called Karman line.
  • The billionaire race for space is big business.
  • The trip is the culmination of a 20-year journey for Bezos with his company, Blue Origin.

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his New Shepard rocket crew blasted off Tuesday from the West Texas desert, reached space and returned to Earth with a smooth parachute landing minutes later.

“Congratulations to all of Team Blue past and present on reaching this historic moment in spaceflight history,” tweeted Bezos' space tourism company, Blue Origin. “This first astronaut crew wrote themselves into the history books of space, opening the door through which many after will pass.” 

The crew was treated to spectacular views of Earth from space along with three or four minutes of weightlessness. The booster rocket touched down smoothly about seven minutes after liftoff. The craft containing the astronauts landed with parachutes a few minutes later.

Bezos launched not only a quick trip to space but what the world's richest man hopes will be a profitable business. Blue Origin plans two more flights this year alone. Tuesday's flight marked the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic crew hurtled historically to the edge of space last week. Bezos and his Blue Origin team say they breached it today.

It's the 16th flight for New Shepard but the first to include people. Bezos and Blue Origin have been somewhat dismissive of Branson's flight nine days ago, saying Virgin Galactic's top altitude of 53.5 miles came up short of reaching true space.

Launch of a new era or flights of fancy? Branson, Bezos ventures may open space travel to all

NASA, the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration and some astrophysicists consider the boundary between the atmosphere and space to begin 50 miles up. Thus passengers on Virgin Galactic tourist trips, which can reach a maximum altitude of about 55 miles, will earn astronaut wings.

Blue Origin intends to send tourists about 66 miles up. That's past the so-called Karman line, 62 miles above Earth, recognized by most international aviation and aerospace federations as the threshold of space. 

“Only 4% of the world recognizes a lower limit of 80 km or 50 miles as the beginning of space,” Blue Origin tweeted ahead of Branson's flight. “New Shepard flies above both boundaries. One of the many benefits of flying with Blue Origin.”

The billionaire race for space is big business. Blue Origin employs thousands across several states and campuses. Virgin Galactic has more than 800 employees. Both companies hope to ultimately sell tickets for $200,000 a seat or more.

Plenty of elbow room and the largest windows in space: A deeper look at Jeff Bezos' trip to space

New Shepard, a fully automated, 60-foot rocket and capsule, is designed primarily for space tourism thanks to automated flight systems, large windows and a modern interior. After liftoff, the booster returns to the facility for a vertical landing while the capsule briefly floats in space, then touches down near the launch site with the help of parachutes.

Branson, 71, and a crew of two pilots and three mission specialists were carried to an altitude of more than eight miles by the aircraft VMS Eve, named after Branson's mother. Live video then showed the space plane VSS Unity release from between the mother ship's twin fuselages, using rocket power to fly to the somewhat disputed boundary of space,.

Like Branson, Bezos, 57, provides his New Shepard vehicle the ultimate endorsement after becoming the first to fly in it. Also on board were his brother Mark, longtime women-in-space advocate Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, and Oliver Daemen, the defacto winner of an auction for the capsule’s fourth seat. Funk, 82, will be the oldest person in space. Daemen, 18, was the youngest.

'It was just magical':Virgin Galactic space plane carrying Richard Branson reaches edge of space, returns safely

For Bezos, the Amazon founder whose wealth has been estimated at $177 billion, the short trip was the culmination of a 20-year journey with his company, Blue Origin. The flight was the company's most high-profile, defining moment.

Mark Bezos, 53, is an entrepreneur and volunteer firefighter at the Scarsdale Fire Department in Scarsdale, New York. Jeff Bezos said he considers his brother his oldest, closest friend. Funk is famous for her part in the “Mercury 13,” a group of women who went through privately funded, unofficial astronaut training in the 1960s but were not selected to fly NASA missions.

“I never thought that I would get to go up,” Funk said after Bezos selected her for the flight.

Daemen, a physics student from the Netherlands, was runner-up in an auction for the seat. The first-place winner, who bid a whopping $28 million, opted to remain anonymous and fly a future New Shepard mission instead. Daemen's father, Joes, is the founder of Dutch hedge fund Somerset Capital Partners.

“I am super excited to go to space,” he said. “I have been dreaming about this all my life.”

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– July 20, 2021
blue origin launch, Blue Origin, bezos space flight, jeff bezos space, Wally Funk, jeff bezos space flight, Oliver Daemen, Bezos

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