Jeff Bezos called his trip to space the “perfect mission” and a “tiny little step” in his master plan to create a road to space on which he believes the world’s main companies would be able to operate in the future to preserve planet Earth.
On Tuesday, July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing, Bezos and the crew of Blue Origin lifted off 12 minutes late from their base in Van Horn, Texas. They climbed for four minutes until their capsule detached from the New Shepard rocket booster, leaving them hanging in zero gravity for four minutes.
They were joined by 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who was the world’s first paying client to purchase his ticket, and 82-year-old Wally Funk, who passed NASA’s space program in the 1960s but was never able to fly since the women’s mission was canceled. Funk is the oldest person ever to have gone into space, and Daemen is the youngest.
They subsequently landed in the Texas desert at 9.22 a.m. EST, 10 minutes and 20 seconds after liftoff, using parachutes to regulate the speed of their descent.
The 5.5 billion dollar voyage cost $550 million per minute. “For every amazon customer, you guys paid for all of this, so thank you from the bottom of my heart,” added Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO earlier this year and will now spend his time between Blue Origin and his environmental foundation.
Bezos claims that his objective is to relocate the world’s big industries that are harmful to the environment to space in order to save the planet’s ecology. He wants to develop space travel in the same way that commercial airliners were developed, and he believes it will become cheaper in the future. He stated that he has already sold $100 million in future airline tickets. This year, Blue Origin will do two more commercial missions with the same capsule but different launchers.
The team was weightless for nearly four minutes before returning to Earth and landing in Texas. The rocket was returned to the landing pad for use on a future mission while the crew was enjoying their time in space. They arrived at the rocket 45 minutes before launch, getting inside a capsule that is ten times larger than the one used by Alan Shepard to become the first American in space.
Before the historic flight, Wally Funk said she is looking forward to every part of the journey, including takeoff, flying, and being able to see Earth out the window. She intends to send a snapshot of herself in space with the American flag.
She was one of the first to ascend the stairwell to the capsule, eager to fly 62 years after undertaking the same training as the NASA Mercury 7 astronauts in 1959.
‘Good morning astronauts and welcome aboard the RSS First Steps,’ said Capcom after all four astronauts had been buckled into their five-point harnesses in the capsule.
Following that, a communications check was performed, with Jeff Bezos having to remind Wally Funk to ‘push the button’ to ensure her communications were operating correctly.
Christina Bezos gave her boys a letter of encouragement as they prepared for their voyage to the edge of space, recalling their time playing to be the crew of the Enterprise in the vehicle.
‘We are so excited for this monumental launch, Jeff this is something you’ve dreamed off your whole life,’ she added, adding that Mark is an inspiration.
During a lengthy car journey as youngsters, she recalled, Jeff would play Captain Kirk, Mark would play Sulu, and she would play Uhura while they battled Klingons while launching torpedoes.
‘Mark fire those torpedoes if ordered to do so,’ she replied, adding, ‘hurry up and get your asses back so I can kiss you, god speed New Shepard.’
Funk, a pioneer in aviation, was a member of the ‘Women in Space’ training program in the 1960s until it was shut down during the Cold War. Despite outperforming several of the Mercury 7 astronauts, she was never selected for space flight.
Before traveling to space, the ‘astronauts’ had to go through two days of training, which included instruction on what to expect as well as a ‘capsule simulator’ that allowed them to experience the entire launch.
They study the technology, get to know the team, and learn procedures like ingress and egress during training, but they spend most of their time inside the capsule so they can concentrate on the genuine experience when they go to space.
They also have unique reclining chairs inside the capsule that ‘absorb the G-force’ when the rocket takes them up to three times the pressure on the earth before floating in space.
On July 11, Sir Richard Branson, the first ‘founder-billionaire’ to go to space in his own company’s launch vehicle, reacted to a video posted by Jeff Bezos on Instagram with the message, ‘Best congratulations @JeffBezos and the @BlueOrigin team from all of us at @VirginGalactic.’
On Twitter, Elon Musk, the creator of competitor SpaceX, wished the Blue Origin crew the best of success. Musk has booked a ticket to space through Virgin Galactic, founded by Richard Branson.
Jeff Bezos had been updating his social media account shared footage of last-minute prep, including a tour of inside the capsule, where everyone seemed comfortable and happy. Funk smiled as he gazed out the window.
Bezos joked with a reporter who inquired if it was ‘his last meal’ as he gave out food to the assembled journalists at the launch site of his New Shepard space rocket.
It will be a competitive market, with some estimates estimating that it might be worth up to $7 trillion in the future, with tickets costing up to $250,000 for a single seat to the edge of space at first.
Blue Origin’s objective, according to Bezos, was to perform “operational space travel” in order to make it equivalent to commercial airplane travel.
‘If we can do that then we’ll be building a road to space for the next generations to do amazing things there, and those amazing things will solve problems here on Earth…
So, the real answer is, yes, we have to do both.’
Bezos, who is worth an estimated $207 billion, is one of a slew of billionaire entrepreneurs fuelling the ‘new space race,’ each pouring billions of dollars into their various start-ups in the hopes of enabling affordable, commercialized space travel.
He launched Blue Origin in September 2000, and he presently funds the firm with $1 billion per year from the sale of his Amazon shares.
The billionaire space race is fuelled by the belief that as an emerging technology is validated and costs decrease, space flight will become commonplace, generating a $3 billion yearly tourism sector.
Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Musk’s SpaceX have all talked of utilizing their rockets to connect far-flung global cities. The long-haul travel industry may be worth more than $20 billion, however, obstacles like air-safety certification could hinder plans.