Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin Crew Successfully Complete Spaceflight in New Shepard Rocket

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches on July 20, 2021, carrying passengers Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and Amazon, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk. (TONY GUTIERREZ / AP)

Riding his own rocket, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos streaked into space Tuesday on a thrilling 10-minute up-and-down flight, a high-tech joyride that sets the stage for the start of commercial passenger service later this year.

“Best day ever!” an elated Bezos said upon landing.

Competing head to head with fellow billionaire Richard Branson, who flew into space aboard his Virgin Galactic rocketplane July 11, Bezos blasted off with his brother Mark and two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space.

Funk, who was barred from NASA’s initially all-male astronaut corps in the 1960s, finally got her chance to prove the naysayers wrong, realizing a lifelong dream.

The crew lifted off from the company’s West Texas launch site at 9:12 a.m. EDT.

Climbing straight up atop 110,000 pounds of push, the rocket rapidly accelerated as it consumed its load of supercold liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants, pushing the passengers back in their recliner-style seats with about three times the normal force of gravity.

In a little more than two minutes, the spacecraft was shooting skyward at three times the speed of sound, dwindling to a blur more than 30 miles up. A few seconds later, at an altitude of about 45 miles, the booster’s company-designed BE-3 main engine shut down and the crew capsule was released to fly on its own.

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SOURCE: CBS News, William Harwood

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