CNBC reports that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has touched down safely after an eleven-minute trip to space aboard the New Shepard rocket developed by his space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos was joined on the flight by his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and recent Dutch high school graduate Oliver Daemen. Daemen’s seat on the ride was purchased by his wealthy father.
The New Shepard rocket took off from Blue Origin’s Texas launch pad and 7 minutes later the rocket’s capsule was officially in space. The rocket booster returned to Earth, firing its engine to slow down its descent, and slowly landed on four legs. The booster will be reused for future launches.
A short while later, attached to a set of parachutes the Blue Origin spacecraft returned to land. The spacecraft briefly fired its thruster to cushion its touchdown for the passenger’s return. Blue Origin crew members quickly rushed to the capsule to open the spacecraft’s hatch from the outside.
Speaking to members of the media, Bezos described the launch as the “Best day ever.”
Social media wags have noted the curiously phallic shape of the New Shephard rocket, leading to considerable jokes at the billionaire’s expense.
Earlier this month, billionaire Sir Richard Branson became the first space tourism pioneer to ride into space, making the journey aboard a rocket plane that his company has been developing for 17 years. Branson called the trip the “experience of a lifetime.”
Branson reached a height of 282,000 feet in the rocket plane known as Unity. Branson was accompanied by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees; Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, and Sirisha Bandla.
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