VIDEO: Jeff Bezos blasts into space aboard New Shepard rocket

15:49, 20 July 2021
VIDEO: Jeff Bezos blasts into space aboard New Shepard rocket Photo: AP/TASS

Billionaire Jeff Bezos has succesfully blasted off into space on board a New Shepard rocket and spacecraft during its First Human Flight NS-16. The Blue Origin 16th flight lasted 10 minutes and 30 seconds in total. The booster itself returned to Earth in seven minutes and thirty seconds.

Upon return to Earth, Jeff Bezos hugged and kissed girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, the 51 year-old former news anchor from Fox 11, followed by his parents, Jackie and Mike Bezos. Mark Bezos was the last one to exit the capsule with the crowd and crew cheering and shouting. Blue Origin founder was heard saying "best day ever".

The spaceflight was set from Launch Site One in West Texas. The crew completed 14 hours of preflight training over two days before the spaceflight in Blue Origin's "astronaut village". 

The spaceship was cleared for a launch on Monday. The technicians checked vehicle systems, including hardware, software, procedures.

The mission carried Amazon founder and his brother Mark Bezos, and two other passengers - 82-year-old Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old student from the Netherlands, Oliver Daemon, the only paying customer aboard, who replaced the winner of a $28 million auction.

"I'm excited. People keep asking me if I'm nervous. I'm not really nervous, I'm curious. I want to know what we're going to learn," Bezos said before the launch.

"We've been training. This vehicle's ready, this crew is ready, this team is amazing. We just feel really good about it."

The crew reached an altitude of 62 miles where they experienced several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth in a gumdrop-shaped Crew Capsule.

Once the rocket blasted off from the Earth and reached the Kármán line, which is 340,000 feet above sea level, the capsule detached from the booster and landed separately in the West Texas desert with the parachutes. 

Former Amazon CEO became the second billionaire to reach the edge of space followed by Richard Branson's flight onboard his Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceship on June 11. Right after Branson's successful flight, the SpaceX founder Elon Musk has bought a ticket on one of Virgin Galactic's future spaceflights. The company's first fully private spaceflight is scheduled for this fall.