space tourism

Earth Briefly Gets Rid of Its Richest Man

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Earth was briefly rid of its richest man when Jeff Bezos blasted off to the edge of space on Tuesday morning. The Amazon founder rode a blazing six-story rocket 62 miles above the planet’s surface with three other passengers: His brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation icon Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Dutch high school grad Oliver Daemen. Funk and Daemen concurrently ​​set two records for oldest and youngest person to leave Earth’s atmosphere. It was also the first human flight of the New Shepard rocket — named after the first American astronaut — manufactured by Bezos’s Blue Origin aerospace company.

“Thanks to every Amazon employee and customer⁠—you paid for this,” Bezos said at a Blue Origin press conference after the launch.

The New Shepard booster lifted off under clear skies before 9:15 am from Blue Origin’s remote launch site in Van Horn, Texas. During the roughly 11-minute ride, the rocket traveled up to an invisible dividing line that’s considered the start of space and then detached a capsule in which crew members experienced about three minutes of weightlessness. A radio feed crackled with laughter and excitement from the crew as they gazed over the planet.

“You’ve got a very happy crew, I want you to know,” Jeff Bezos called during the landing, just before the parachutes were deployed. Ultimately, the crew capsule descended to a gentle touchdown in the Texan desert, welcomed back by crying Blue Origin employees watching from afar.

Earth Briefly Gets Rid of Its Richest Man