Amazon founder and richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, took a stroll into space today in the New Shepard spacecraft, built by his company Blue Origin.
The successful launch of the New Shepard capsule rocket from West Texas took place at 4:12 pm Greek time. The extraordinary flight lasted 10 minutes 18 seconds. Separated from the launch vehicle, the ship climbed to an altitude of 100 km.
Jeff Bezos created Blue Origin back in 2000 and has been waiting for that moment for over 20 years. Before the flight, he told the American CBS News:
“I’m constantly asked if I’m nervous. But I’m not nervous, I’m just very interested in what new we are learning. The machine is ready, the crew is ready, our team is amazing. We are all in a very good mood.”
The flight lasted nearly 11 minutes, marking a new milestone in the billionaire space race. A few days ago, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson also flew to the edge of space, spending about an hour on the journey. For several minutes of weightlessness, Branson and his fellow travelers unfastened their belts and enjoyed the beauty of our planet from above.
Bezos overcame the altitude reached by Virgin Galactic’s Unity rocket plane (90 km) and took off above Branson, reaching 106 km. The boundary of space, as defined by the International Aeronautical Federation, is 100 km above sea level. However, NASA and the US Air Force define it at 80 km.
On board the New Shepard capsule, in addition to the founder of Amazon, were his brother Mark, an 18-year-old physics student from the Netherlands, Oliver Daman, and an 82-year-old pilot from the United States, Wally Funk. In place of Daman, there was supposed to be an unknown person who bought a ticket to space at an online auction, spending 28 million dollars on it. However, at the last moment, he abandoned the flight, citing a busy schedule for his decision.
It is believed that the idea behind private space travel is to make outer space accessible to mere mortals. However, so far few can afford such a flight: the cost of tickets for the first Virgin Galactic flights is 250 thousand dollars, and the price for travel by the New Shepard ship has not yet been announced.