For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Billionaire Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, achieved his lifelong dream Tuesday morning July 20 when he soared to the edge of space on the history making 1st human flight aboard his company’s New Shepard suborbital commercial rocket and capsule built by Blue Origin – the rocket company he founded and financed to open a new era in commercial space tourism and eventually orbital flight as well
Bezos launched on ‘the journey of a lifetime’ with a crew of four including his brother as well as the oldest and youngest humans to ever reach space from a remote launch site in west Texas.
“The greatest day ever,” exclaimed Jeff Bezos after emerging from the New Shepard capsule that safely landed close to the launch site.
“It was so amazing I don’t have the talent to put into words what we just experienced.”
“My expectations were sky high! And we exceeded them!”
Blue Origin successfully completed New Shepard’s first human flight on July 20 with four private citizens onboard including Billionaire Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen.
New Shepard’s first human flight launched at 9:12 a.m. EDT on July 20th from Blue Origin’s rocket test site facility near Van Horn in West Texas – coinciding with the 52nd anniversary of the 1st human moon landing on NASA’s Apollo 11 in 1969.
The crew of the Bezos brothers, Funk and Daemen all officially became astronauts when they passed the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of outer space 62 miles (100 km) above Earth with no discernable atmosphere.
Inside the New Shepard capsule they reached an altitude of 66 miles (107 km) while traveling at a top speed of some 2233 mph (3959 km/h).
They experienced weightlessness for up to 4 minutes – and the sight of the beautiful and fragile Earth and its curvature and gazing into the blackness and vastness of outer space.
“This is the only good one,” Bezos said referring to Planet Earth. “We have to take care of it. If you go to space you’ll see how fragile it is and want to take care of it even more.”
Flight statistics from Blue Origin for the 1st crew crewed flight of New Shepard:
Key Mission Stats from #NSFirstHumanFlight:
Crew capsule apogee: 347,563 ft AGL / 351,210 ft MSL (105 km AGL / 107 km MSL)
Booster apogee: 347,188 ft AGL / 350,835 ft MSL (105 km AGL / 106 km MSL)
Elapsed mission time: 10:10
Max ascent velocity: 2,233 mph (3,595 km/h)
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 20, 2021
82-year-old Aviation pioneer Wally Funk was chosen by Jeff Bezos to fly with him as an honored guest and crew member aboard the first New Shepard human flight.
Wally Funk as one of the ‘Mercury 13’ – the first group of female American pilots to complete NASA’s Women in Space program. But it was cancelled and none of the women ever had a chance
This was her opportunity at long last.
57-year-old Billionaire Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest person and founder of Amazon and Blue Origin – and thereby completed the 2nd leg of the Billionaires Space Race.
He has financed Blue Origin with billions in his own funds – selling about $1 Billion in Amazon stock per year.
The Billionaires space race is truly heating up and this flight coming just 9 days after Richard Branson’s’ suborbital flight to space aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceplane one week ago on Sunday morning, July 11 – beating Bezos to space
Both billionaires Branson and Bezos founded and financed rocket systems using billions of their own dollars, on suborbital space flights – thereby aiming at starting a new chapter in the commercial human spaceflight era of space tourism.
“The views were breathtaking,” said Mark Bezos. “I’ve never seen anything to beautiful.”
Wally Funk said “I want to go back. I loved every minute of it , I wish it were longer. I can hardly wait for another chance to go again.”
Rounding out the four person crew was 18-year-old Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, who is flying in place of the auction winner who won with a bid of $28 million – but can’t fly on this 1st New Shepard commercial mission due to a rather confounding ‘scheduling conflict.’
Some crew statistics about the crew on the historic mission
- Wally Funk, 82, became the oldest person to fly in space.
- Oliver Daemen, 18, was the first ever commercial astronaut to purchase a ticket and fly to space on a privately-funded and licensed space vehicle from a private launch site. He also became the youngest person to fly in space.
- New Shepard became the first commercial vehicle under a suborbital reusable launch vehicle license to fly paying customers, both payloads and astronauts, to space and back.
- Jeff and Mark Bezos became the first siblings to ever fly in space together.
Blue Origin successfully completed first human flight aboard New Shepard rocket and capsule on July 20, 2021 with four private citizens onboard including Billionaire Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen. Credit: Blue OriginThe test flight made history as only the second rocket to be financed and flown by a billionaire with his own money and the first to carry humans on the first crew mission with a paying passenger for commercial space tourism. Bezos initially invited his brother and best friend Mark to journey along for the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ and then Wally Funk.
The test flight made history as only the second rocket to be financed and flown by a billionaire with his own money and the first to carry humans on the first crew mission with a paying passenger for commercial space tourism. Bezos initially invited his brother and best friend Mark to journey along for the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ and then Wally Funk
The history making and short trip to the edge of space and back was unpiloted and fully automated and took place after just two days of training for the four person international crew.
Upon landing, the new astronauts excited the capsule with exuberance and were greeted by their families and Blue Origin’s ground operations team for a celebration in the West Texas desert.
At the post landing briefing with the media Bezos said Blue Origin expects to fly two more crewed flights this year, with many more crewed flights planned for 2022.
Bezos also announced that Blue Origin has privately sold over $100 million in rides aboard New Shepard.
Wally Funk’s very long journey to space began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program, a privately-funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness.
That program later became known as the “Mercury 13” – “thirteen American women successfully underwent the same physiological and psychological screening tests as the astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury, but they never flew to space,” said Blue Origin in their announcement of her participation.
Wally was the youngest graduate of this program. But she never flew in space with NASA because the program was ultimately cancelled.
She was the first female FAA inspector and first female NTSB air safety investigator.
Bezos was interviewed by multiple TV networks post landing. Here are a few quotes on his goals with this mission and beyond which I will be updating:
“Today was the beginning. Big things start out small and we will build on that. I’m confident. These are the first steps,” said Jeff Bezos.
He has retired as chairman of Amazon.
I am focusing now on Blue Origin and Climate Change initiatives preserving the Earth.”
“We need to go to space so we can see the Earth.”
“We need to move all heavy and polluting industry off the earth and into space and keep the Earth as the beautiful gem of a planet that it is.”
“That will take generations to achieve but we need to start.”
“We need to build a road to space so other people can drive on it so we can lay the infrastructure. Then people in the future can build on that- maybe that can be done with the teenager aboard like Oliver.”
“We will build a road to space so our kids and their kids can build the future”
“We can try and build solar satellites to beam energy to Erath and reduce pollution.”
“This is like the barnstorming days [in early aviation]. And that eventually leads to today and we have the 787.”
“The future is like that. Its kind of winding and meandering. All research and development is like that. Iis not obvious where it will lead. It hard to see where it will lead. But that’s the way exploration is.
“We have to have explorers. Like Wilbur and Orville Wright . Folks in the past told them to work on something more practical. If they had done that we would not be here with the aviation industry we have today.”
“I know what something big looks like when its small.”
“There will be an ecosystems of many companies creating the space infrastructure.”
“We have lots of problems in the here and now. And we need to work on those, and we need to look to the future”
“We have to do both. Humanity has always done that. We have all kids of problems, hunger, climate disasters and pollution.”
“Reusability is the key to bring costs down drastically.”
Bezos awarded $200 million in 2 ‘Courage and Civility’ philanthropic awards.
Watch this launch video:
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 20, 2021
And the landing video:
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 20, 2021
Here’s a view of Blue Origin’s Spaceport taken from space by Maxar:
We imaged the @blueorigin spaceport approximately 4 hours after the successful touchdown of their first crewed flight, which included @JeffBezos, his brother, Mark, Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen. pic.twitter.com/aKzkrIJWAM
— Maxar Technologies (@Maxar) July 20, 2021
I have done multiple TV interviews about the ‘Billionaires Space Race between Branson and Bezos’ for WESH 2 NBC News Orlando, Fox 35 Orlando, TRT World TV and i24 Israeli TV.
Here’s my Fox 35 interview comments:
Here’s the WESH 2 NBC Orlando News story featuring my comments about the Billionaires Space Race between Branson and Bezos broadcast on July 9/10, 2021
Here’s my TRT World TV interview comments:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about commercial suborbital spaceflight by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX Cargo and Crew Dragons, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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