Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has become an astronaut after ascending into space in a capsule launched by the New Shepard rocket and traveling 66 miles above the Earth’s surface with his own company Blue Origin.
The Amazon CEO was joined by his brother Mark, Dutch youngster Oliver Daemen, who became the world’s youngest astronaut, and former NASA trainee Wally Funk, 82, who will become the world’s oldest astronaut.
The launch was scheduled for 14:00 BST (09:00 EDT), but it actually took off at 14:12 BST (09:12 EDT), reaching orbit four minutes later at 14:16 BST (09:16 EDT), to the delight of the crew on board.
When asked for a’status check’ by Capcom, Jeff Bezos declared it as the ‘greatest day ever.’
They stayed weightless for almost four minutes before returning to Earth and landing in Texas. The launcher was returned to the landing pad for use on another flight while the crew was enjoying their time in space.
During the weightlessness period, you could clearly hear Wally Funk exclaim, “It’s dark up here,” followed by status checks from each of the four, with Jeff Bezos needing to remind Wally and Oliver to affirm.
Each of the three stages of the flight lasts about three to four minutes: first, the rocket launch, during which they will experience up to three times the pressure on the surface, then four minutes of weightlessness, during which they will be able to see the Earth’s curve, and finally, a three-minute descent to the Texas desert.
To cheers from the ground and joy from the four newest astronauts, the group returned to Earth at a slow 14 or 15 miles per hour, landing softly in the desert at 14:23 BST (09:23 EDT).
‘That was incredible, that was unbelievable,’ Bezos said in the capsule, adding, ‘I was shocked how easy zero g was, remarkably natural,’ and Mark remarking that it felt like swimming.
On the sands of the Texas desert, the four astronauts rejoiced with’space cowboy’ Jeff Bezos, who was still wearing his cowboy hat and hugging his fellow passengers.
It was a voyage of firsts, with Jeff Bezos being the wealthiest person to travel to space, Funk becoming the oldest astronaut to date, and Oliver becoming the youngest.