Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched into space Tuesday on his company’s first flight with passengers aboard, becoming the second billionaire to use his own spacecraft to become an astronaut.
Billionaire Jeff Bezos launches into space, soars 66.5 miles high
The flight went smoothly, taking off just in time, rising to an apogee of 351,210 feet (66.51 miles) and then returning to Earth.
In a status check of all passengers after the capsule landed in a cloud of dust, the Amazon founder said, “Astronaut Bezos: best day of my life.”
Bezos was accompanied into space by three people: his brother, Mark, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas, an 18-year-old physics student from the Netherlands, and the oldest and youngest people to fly into space.
When the rocket reached 60,000 feet, the passengers were traveling at 1,000 mph. At 325,000, passengers unfastened their seat belts and floated around the capsule, enjoying weightlessness for a few minutes.
Cries of excitement could be heard on Earth over the spacecraft’s communication system.
“Everything looks dark from here,” said Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who passed the same tests as NASA’s male astronaut corps in the early 1960s, but never had the opportunity to go into space.
Back on Earth, she exclaimed, “2,000 miles per hour! My God!”
A sonic boom filled the air as the booster rocket returned to Earth and landed successfully just a few feet from the dead center of the launch pad. Soon after, the capsule, with passengers experiencing six G-forces, appeared in the sky.
Three small parachutes flew up to 3,000 feet, followed by three larger ones, which returned the capsule to its altitude
Bezos, one of the many billionaires who ignore all the problems on planet Earth, acknowledges that his flights “are just pleasure trips.”