Blue Origin: Jeff Bezos returns in New Shepard capsule
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Blue Origin launched from West Texas today (July 20) on what was an exhilarating day for the space tourism industry. Multibillionaire Jeff Bezos blasted off just after 2pm BST (9am EDT) aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The former Amazon CEO was joined by his brother Mark, an 18-year-old student and guest-of-honour Wally Funk.
What you need to know about this flight:
- Blue Origin launched just after 2pm BST
- Jeff Bezos was joined on the flight by three other people
- Blue Origin’s New Shepard flew to the edge of space
- The flight is expected to only last about 11 minutes
- The mission is called ‘First Human Flight’
- Blue Origin launched on the 52nd anniversary of the Moon landing
After Sir Richard Branson earned his astronaut wings at the age of 70 on July 11, Mr Bezos, 57, followed suit.
The Amazon mastermind became today the second billionaire to fly into space aboard a privately built spacecraft.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket carried the crew above the 62 mile-high Karman line, before the four astronauts returned to the ground in a capsule.
The mission marked the very first time a paying civilian flew into space on a private spacecraft.
Oliver Daemen, 18, flew instead of an anonymous auction winner who paid more than £20million ($28million) but had to cancel due to scheduling conflicts.
This is a live blog. Refresh the page to see the latest updates below.
Blue Origin launch live: Here are the latest updates from Jeff Bezos’s first spaceflight (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch live: Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk hugged it out upon return (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
2.53pm BST: World congratulates Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos
Congratulations and warm messages have poured in from around the world after Jeff Bezos and crew safely returned to Earth.
The US National and Space Museum tweeted: “Congratulations to
@BlueOrigin on completing the first human spaceflight of their New Shepard spacecraft!”
The European Space Agency (ESA) specifically congratulated Wally Funk for finally achieving her dream of spaceflight.
John Kraus, a spaceflight photojournalist, said: “Congrats to everyone at Blue Origin who contributed to putting humans in space today.”
And aeronautical engineer Dr Norah Patten said: “Here’s to astronaut Wally Funk Rocket At 82, she became the oldest person to fly to space today.
“An aviation pioneer who has spent her life paving this path to space Star-struck happy #WallyFunk Day Revolving hearts congratulations team @blueorigin.”
Even Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin empire, said: “Well done @blueorigin, @jeffbezos, Mark, Wally and Oliver.
“Impressive! Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic.”
2.45pm BST: Wally Funk becomes world’s oldest astronaut
Aviation trailblazer Wally Funk, 82, has beaten NASA astronaut John Glenn to become the world’s oldest astronaut.
Although the Blue Origin crew only spent a few minutes in space, it was enough for all four flight members to earn their astronaut wings.
After touching down on Earth, Blue Origin tweeted: “Congratulations to all of Team Blue past and present on reaching this historic moment in spaceflight history.
“This first astronaut crew wrote themselves into the history books of space, opening the door through which many after will pass.”
Blue Origin launch live: The crew celebrating their flight back on Earth (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin: Jeff Bezos launches into space on New Shepard rocket
5.20pm BST: Wally Funk admits trip was ‘long time coming’
Wally Funk, the oldest person to ever venture into space at 82 years old, has revealed she’s already desperate to go back.
The US aviator always dreamed of making it into space, and was part of the ‘Mercury 13’ programme to get female astronauts to qualify for Nasa.
She had previously admitted that she didn’t think she’d ever make it into space.
But, after forming part of Jeff Bezos’s flight crew today, her dream has become a reality.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get up there,” she said.
“I loved it…and the four of us, we had a great time.
“It was wonderful. I want to go again — fast.”
2.35pm BST: Jubilant astronauts celebrate with champagne
As the crew celebrated their return to Earth, the crew cracked open bottles of champagne.
According to Gary Lai, Blue Origin Senior Director, it is the “only proper way to end a spaceflight”.
2.30pm BST: New Shepard crew emerges from capsule
The multibillionaire has safely returned to Earth after flying more than 62 miles into the atmosphere.
He has now left his New Shepard capsule with a smile on his face and a cowboy hat on his head.
The astronauts were greeted by friends and family who shook hands and exchanged hugs.
Gary Lai, Blue Origin Senior Director, said of the landing: “It was picture perfect.”
Blue Origin launch live: The New Shepard capsule on its way down to Earth (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch: The New Shepard capsule has landed on Earth (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
2.27pm BST: Landing was ‘picture perfect’
Gary Lai, Blue Origin Senior Director, said of the landing: “It was picture perfect.”
2.23pm BST: Jeff Bezos and crew land back on Earth
Speaking from inside of the capsule, one of the four astronauts was heard saying: “Best day ever.”
Crowds were also seen cheering on the four crewmembers at the Blue Origins headquarters,
2.21pm BST: Blue Origin crew makes way back to Earth
The newly minted astronauts are making their way back to the planet’s surface.
Their capsule is slowly falling to the planet, slowed down by three parachutes.
2.20pm BST: New Shepard booster lands back on Earth
The New Shepard has landed back on Earth as the crew made its way to the surface.
Jeff Bezos said from space: “You have a very happy crew up here.”
Blue Origin launch live: A view of space from the New Shepard (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch live: The moment New Shepard blasted off into space (Image: GETTY)
2.16pm BST: Jeff Bezos and crew blast off into space
Jeff Bezos and his three crewmates have blasted off into space.
Speaking from the capsule, Wally Funk was heard saying: “It’s so dark here.”
2.10pm BST: New Shepard enters final countdown to launch
The New Shepard has entered the auto sequence and will soon launch into space.
With just two minutes to go, the launch tower has retracted from the spacecraft.
2.07pm BST: Blue Origin is ‘go for launch’
Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s Director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales, has confirmed the crew and spacecraft are ready for liftoff.
She said: “We confirmed we are go for launch, for First Human Flight on New Shepard.”
1.57pm BST: Countdown resumes after brief hold
The New Shepard launch countdown has resumed after a seven-minute delay.
Although a cause for the temporary hold has not been given, a Blue Origin engineer said these may be caused by anomalies.
Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s Director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales, said: “I understand the hold is lifted, so it sounds like we have gotten the timelines all aligned.”
Blue Origin launch live: The launch countdown has resumed after a brief delay (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
1.50pm BST: ‘We love you and godspeed New Shepard’
Christina Bezos, the Amazon founder’s sister, shared a touching message with her two brothers inside the New Shepard capsule.
She reminded the pair of their childhood romps and how Mr Bezos has always dreamt of flying into space.
She said: “We love you and godspeed, New Shepard.”
1.47pm BST: 17-minute countdown to liftoff begins
The Blue Origin astronauts are now less than 20 minutes from liftoff.
The hatch on the New Shepard has been sealed and the astronauts are ready to launch.
1.38pm BST: Jeff Bezos and crew board the New Shepard rocket
Jeff Bezos and his three companions have boarded the rocket.
The billionaire was seen approaching the spacecraft wearing a cowboy hat.
As the astronauts crossed the bridge towards the New Shepard capsule, they each rang a bell.
The astronauts are now being strapped into their seats, secured by a five-point belt and buckle system.
Blue Origin launch live: The crew have boarded the New Shepard and are being strapped in (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch live: The astronauts getting ready to board the spacecraft (Image: GETTY)
1.30pm BST: Blue Origin and crew ‘are go’ for rocket loading
The New Shepard crew has arrived at the launchpad and have been given the all-clear to board the rocket.
Blue Origin tweeted: “We are go for #NewShepard astronaut load.
“CrewMember 7 is now taking Jeff, Mark, Wally, and Oliver out to the launch pad.”
1.18pm BST: Astronauts head out to the launchpad
Jeff Bezos and his three crewmembers have left the Astronaut Training Center and are on their way to the New Shepard.
At about 30 minutes to launch, the astronauts will board the rocket.
Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s Director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales, said: “A moment we have been waiting for here at Blue Origin. So much work has led to this moment.”
The astronauts, travelling in an SUV, were seen waving from the vehicle at Blue Origin’s team members.
The road to the New Shepard launchpad is about two miles long.
Blue Origin launch live: The crew is on their way to the New Shepard launchpad (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
1.15pm BST: Excitement takes over as the clock counts down to liftoff
Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s Director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales, the astronauts are waiting in the Astronaut Training Center which they will be soon leaving.
She added: “I’m sure they’re trying to contain their excitement.
“You know, you’ve got that excited energy that, of course, they are controlling themselves.”
12.59pm BST: New Shepard rocket rolled out and ready to go
Blue Origin’s rocket, the New Shepard, has been rolled out onto the launch pad and is vertical.
In just about one hour, the spacecraft will take off with its four crew members.
The crew will load into the spacecraft’s capsule at about T-30 minutes or 30 minutes to liftoff.
Blue Origin said: “The hatch will close six minutes later at T-24 minutes.
“Terminal Count Ready Report will be at T-10 minutes.”
Blue Origin launch live: An up-close look at the New Shepard’s engine (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch live: The New Shepard rocket out on the launch pad (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
12.45pm BST: Blue Origin crew to experience 3 to 4 minutes of zero-g
After the New Shepard passes the Karman line, the four astronauts aboard will have up to four minutes to enjoy the thrill of weightlessness.
Blue Origin tweeted: “#NewShepard’s flight profile lasts approximately 11 minutes from launch to capsule landing.
“Astronauts will experience three to four minutes of zero-g and travel above the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.”
The crew will then fall back down to Earth inside their protective capsule.
12.35pm BST: Blue Origin on course to break three spaceflight records
Blue Origin will become today the world’s first private company to fly a paying customer into space.
Secondly, the company will help Wally Funk, 82, become the world’s oldest astronaut after NASA’s John Glenn.
The veteran astronaut set the record when he flew the Space Shuttle Discovery at the age of 77 in 1998.
Finally, Mr Daemen, 18, will become the youngest person to fly into space at the age of 18.
Blue Origin launch live: Wally Funk will be the oldest person to fly into space (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
12.08pm BST: World wishes Jeff Bezos a successful flight
As the Blue Origin crew prepares for the ride of a lifetime, spaceflight pundits and scientists worldwide have come together to wish them a great flight.
Chelsea ‘Foxanne’ Gohd, Space.com report, tweeted: “Wishing the @blueorigin crew and mission teams a safe and successful flight today!”
Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and former space station commander, wished Wally Funk a “great ride” and called her a “legendary pilot” about to realise her dream of spaceflight.
Even Virgin Galactic tweeted: “Wishing the entire @blueorigin team a successful and safe flight from all of us @VirginGalactic.”
11.45am BST: Blue Origin’s plans branded a ‘rich kid’s playtime’
Although Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic dream of bringing spaceflight to the masses, experts think this will not happen anytime soon.
According to Dr Robert Massey, Deputy Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society, space tourism is simply too expensive for the general public to be part of.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think there is a lot of hype around space tourism and we are very, very many years from this being a kind of market that the vast majority of people would have any ability to access.
“When you look at the ticket prices – even Virgin Galactic which is the cheapest one – clearly the overwhelming majority of people are not going to have $250,000 to have access to space.”
Read the full article here: Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin’s space tourism branded ‘rich kid’s playtime’
Blue Origin launch live: Mark Bezos, Jeff bezos Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk [Left to right] (Image: BLUE ORIGIN TWITTER)
11.20am BST: Jeff Bezos is ‘having a dig’ at Richard Branson
According to space commentator Andy Lound, there is a debate raging about the spaceflight capabilities of Virgin Galactic compared to Blue Origin
The Amazon founder will fly above the Karman line today – the internationally accepted border of space.
The American standard, however, states the border of space is 50 miles up – the altitude Virgin Galactic flies to.
Mr Lound said: “So there is a bit of a debate between people whether you really make it or you don’t make it.
“And to be honest it’s a bit pedantic really, because if you step out of a spaceship at 50-miles you’re going to die just as quickly if you step out at 62-miles.
“But it is a bit of an interesting battle between the two people.”
Read the full article here: ‘Bezos is having dig at Branson’ Expert on space war between billionaires
10.55am BST: Spaceflight still out of reach for the masses – expert
Despite Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic promising to open up space tourism to the masses, experts fear the costs of spacelight will prevent most from leaving Earth.
Dr Ian Whittaker, a Senior Lecturer in Physics at Nottingham Trent University, told Express.co.uk it is unlikely these private ventures will help the general public get into space.
He said: “Until some new form of low cost, environmentally friendly thrust mechanism is developed it just is not going to happen large scale.”
Earlier this month, Richard Branson told the world “space belongs to us all”.
Read the full article here: Richard Branson promised a revolution – but ‘ridiculous’ prices will keep you from space
Blue Origin launch live: The crew will return to Earth in a capsule (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
Blue Origin launch live: The New Shepard rocket will return without a crew (Image: BLUE ORIGIN)
10.32am BST: Jeff Bezos and crew ‘are go for launch’
The tech mogul and his crew have completed their pre-flight training and are ready to blast off this afternoon.
Blue Origin tweeted late on Monday (UK time): “Our astronauts have completed training and are go for launch. #NSFirstHumanFlight”
The crew will blast off aboard the New Shepard rocket from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near Van Horn in West Texas.
After their brief excursion into space ends, their capsule will fall back to Earth and land in the Texan wilderness.
The crew of today’s launch consists of:
- Jeff Bezos, 57 – Amazon and Blue Origin founder
- Mark Bezos, 53 – Co-founder of HighPost Capital
- Oliver Daemen, 18 – Son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO, Joes Daemen
- Wally Funk, 82 – Aviation instruction, FAA investigator and Mercury 13 astronaut candidate
Mr Bezos shared a touching video clip of his crewmembers on Instagram on the weekend, with the caption: “Love this crew.”