xi's moments
Home | Newsmakers

Jeff Bezos has 'best day ever' with spaceflight

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-07-21 10:57

Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos wears goggles owned by Amelia Earhart which he carried into space at a post-launch press conference after he flew on Blue Origin's inaugural flight to the edge of space, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, US, July 20, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

It took 10 minutes and 10 seconds on Tuesday for Jeff Bezos to fulfill his goal of more than 20 years — going into space.

The 57-year-old Amazon founder, his brother and two others — who became the youngest and oldest persons ever to go into space — lifted off in Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft, rising more than 65 miles (104 kilometers) into the sky.

"Best day ever!" Bezos said after touching down near the launch site in West Texas. "My expectations were high, and they were dramatically exceeded."

Wearing a cowboy hat and blue flight suit, Bezos and the others hugged relatives, friends and company employees when they got out of the capsule. Later, Bezos and members of his team celebrated by popping open champagne bottles near the rocket ship.

"It felt so serene and peaceful, and the floating … it's a very pleasurable experience," Bezos said of the weightlessness that he and the others experienced.

Bezos is the world's richest man and the second billionaire to leave Earth this month. Richard Branson made a suborbital trip on July 11, beating Bezos. He traveled with five others about 54 miles up in a spacecraft built by his company, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.

Billionaire Elon Musk, whose Space Exploration Technologies Corp is the formal name for his SpaceX, plans to take four commercial passengers into orbit on one of the company's Crew Dragon capsules. SpaceX also has been completing launches for commercial customers and government agencies.

The launch of the spacecraft built by Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin and named New Shepard after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, went smoothly from launch in Van Horn, Texas, at 8:11 am CT until it floated down to Earth.

The flight was timed to coincide with the date in 1969 when the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon.

Over the past six years, Blue Origin has conducted 15 successful test flights without people aboard, and engineers decided that New Shepard was finally ready for passengers.

The other three passengers were Bezos' brother, Mark, 53; Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who was Blue Origin's first paying passenger, and Mary Wallace Funk, 82, a pilot who in the 1960s was among a group of women who passed the same rigorous astronaut selection criteria employed by NASA but who, until Tuesday, never had the chance to board a rocket.

"Thank you," she said to Bezos afterward.

The capsule carrying them detached from the rocket at an altitude of about 47 miles and continued upward to 66.5 miles, passing the 62-mile boundary often considered to be the beginning of outer space.

Then all the passengers unbuckled and floated around the capsule, experiencing about four minutes of free fall.

The booster landed vertically near the launch site. The capsule then descended under parachutes until it gently set down in a puff of dust.

The four then emerged euphorically from the capsule.

In 2017, Bezos announced that he would sell $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to fund the space venture.

For the first flight, Blue Origin auctioned off one of the seats with the proceeds going to Bezos' space-focused nonprofit, Club for the Future. The winning bid was $28 million. When the auction winner, who remains anonymous, decided to skip the first flight and take the ride later, Blue Origin contacted Daemen, one of the people who had a ticket for the second flight. Blue Origin has declined to reveal the price he paid.

Blue Origin said it had opened ticket sales for future flights, and Bezos said it had amassed $100 million in sales, with two more crewed missions planned this year. It hasn't given details on pricing.

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and began acquiring land in Texas to build the private facility used for Tuesday's launch. The company hired staffers to develop rockets, engines and spacecraft and now employs more than 3,500 people at facilities in Florida, California and other locations.

At the end of the news conference, Bezos announced that to commemorate the flight he was giving two $100 million prizes as part of a "courage and civility award".

The two prizes will be awarded to activist and CNN commentator Van Jones, and chef and humanitarian José Andrés.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349