Jeff Bezos launched to the edge of space Tuesday morning with three fellow passengers and landed safely in a Texas desert aboard his space company’s crew capsule. The NS-16 mission marked Blue Origin’s first to carry humans and kicked off commercial service for the company’s space tourism business. Flying Bezos, the richest man in the world who founded Blue Origin in 2000, sent a signal to prospective space tourists that the company’s suborbital New Shepard rocket is safe to fly and open for business.
The six-story-tall New Shepard booster lifted off under clear skies at 9:12AM ET on Tuesday from its remote launch site in Van Horn, Texas, with the company’s gumdrop-shaped RSS First Step crew capsule fixed on top. Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation legend Wally Funk, and Dutch teen Oliver Daemen — who represented Blue Origin’s first paying customer — were strapped inside the capsule. The crew capsule sped to a peak altitude of 66 miles at three times the speed of sound before parting with the booster. The passengers experienced a brief feeling of weightlessness and could see the curvature of Earth on the brim of its atmosphere.
“My main mission was accomplished — I didn’t kick anyone,” Bezos quipped after his capsule touched down. “I was surprised at how easy zero-G was... it was like swimming.”