For Jeff Bezos, 57, the dream of traveling to space since he was five years old, finally came true. "Best day ever”, said the billionaire after this historic space flight. Accompanying Bezos was his brother Mark, 53, Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old son of a Dutch financier, and Wally Funk, 82, a former astronaut trainee. Funk is the oldest person to travel to space and Daemen is the youngest.
Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, took off aboard his company Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle for a suborbital flight. The crew blasted off for an 11-minute ride on the company’s rocket. At an altitude of 47 miles (76 km), a 10-foot-tall capsule with large windows and reclining leather seats detached from the booster and ascended beyond the Karman line 62 miles above the Earth, where the passengers experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and unforgettable views. They then strapped back in and went into a freefall toward the desert ground. Just before touchdown, a retro thruster slowed the descent for a soft landing. The spaceship floated down on three giant parachutes, sending up a cloud of sand as it gently landed at one or two miles an hour. The New Shepherd had previously flown 15 times without a crew.
Bezos started Amazon.com Inc. as an online book business from his Seattle garage in 1994 and turned it into the world’s largest online retailer, making him the wealthiest man on the planet. He’s been selling Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin, which builds rocket engines used to launch satellites.
Bezos’ ultimate goal is to make such trips routine on rockets that are reused like airplanes. The New Shepard booster returned to a landing pad so it can be reused rather than break apart in the atmosphere. Reusable rockets are key to lowering the cost of space travel. Bezos’ dream is to sell space joy rides to wealthy tourists and hopes that millions of people will one day live and work in space.
Written by: Sujata Bhatia