The richest man in the world, the American Jeff Bezos, fulfilled on Tuesday his dream of reaching space aboard the first manned flight of his company Blue Origin: “It is the happiest day of my life”, he assured, as he got off the New Shepard rocket.
The ship, to which a capsule carrying four crew members was attached, took off at 10.11 am from Argentina, just a few minutes behind schedule, from a remote desert location in West Texas (southern USA), 40 km from the small town of Van Horn.
The flight barely lasted 10 minutes and 29 seconds.
Joining Jeff Bezos were his brother Mark, pioneering ex-traveler Wally Funk, 82, and Blue Origin’s first paying customer, 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen. One became the oldest person to reach space, and the young one the youngest.
Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk, at the end of the New Shepard flight. Photo Capture from YouTube
The New Shepard accelerated into space at speeds in excess of Mach 3 on the supersonic scale, thanks to its thrusters powered by Liquid hydrogen and oxygen, without carbon emissions.
The capsule then separated from its thruster and the astronauts spent a few minutes above the so-called Karman Line (100 km), the internationally recognized line between atmosphere and space.
The crew of the capsule were able to admire the curvature of the blue planet and the intense black color of the universe from the large windows they occupied one third of the cabin surface.
“Everything is black here”, Funk exclaimed, according to the capsule audio.
After a few minutes of weightlessness, the capsule descended in free fall before deploying three giant parachutes and then a jet thruster to land softly in the desert after a flight of about 10 minutes.
The four passengers exited the capsule and were greeted with cheers by the Blue Origin team. Jeff Bezos was wearing a cowboy hat when leaving the module.
Bezos’ first manned mission
Bezos, at the conclusion of the space trip. Photo EFE
Blue Origin planned its first manned mission to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the first moon landing.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson made the trip on July 11, narrowly beating the Amazon mogul in this battle of billionaires.
But Bezos, like Branson, insists this is not a competition.
“There is a person who was the first person in space, his name was Yuri gagarin, and that was a long time ago, “he told TODAY on NBC on Monday, referring to the milestone of 1961 of the Soviet cosmonaut.
“This is not a competition, it is about building a way into space so that future generations they can do amazing things there, “he added.
Take-off from New Shepard. AP Photo
Bezos, 57, founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of one day building gravity floating space colonies artificial where millions of people will work and live.
Today, the company is developing an orbital rocket called New Glenn and a lunar lander that it hopes to contract with NASA.
This first manned Blue Origin flight was also the first in which a paid passenger travels.
Daemen replaced the original winner of the online auction in mid-July, that paid 28 million dollars.
Funk, a member of the Mercury 13 female astronaut training project, had to give up her dream of traveling to space because of sexism in the 1960s. She vowed to make the most of the trip.
Blue Origin plans two more launches this year and “many more” starting in 2022.
“We have had 7,500 bidders from more than 150 countriesso obviously there is a lot of interest, “said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith, adding that the first flights” are selling at a great price. “
A third billionaire in the race, Elon Musk, and his company Spacex They will join the space race in September with a fully orbital expedition.
SpaceX has also partnered with the company Axiom to bring tourists to the International Space Station (ISD).