Jeff Bezos travels to space in his own rocket
Hot on the heels of fellow billionaire Richard Branson's odyssey, Jeff Bezos successfully completed an 11-minute ride to space and back aboard a Blue Origin spacecraft. He was accompanied by his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old astronaut Wally Funk, and the world's youngest space traveler Oliver Daemen. The historic flight was streamed live on YouTube by Blue Origin. Here are more details.
The crew enjoyed four minutes of weightlessness
The NS16 mission stands for the 16th flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. It also happened to be the rocket's first time carrying a human payload after Blue Origin received FAA approval for human spaceflight just last week. A jubilant Bezos and his equally-happy motley crew enjoyed 11 minutes of spaceflight, four of which were spent in microgravity or zero-g.
NS16 flew world's oldest and youngest astronaut together
The flight made history by flying the world's oldest astronaut Wally Funk at the age of 82 as well as 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, the youngest person to fly to space. Interestingly, Daemen also became the world's first space tourist since his father paid Blue Origin an undisclosed sum. Oliver's spot was originally auctioned to an unnamed person for $28 million.
Blue Origin rocket crossed the Kármán line, unlike Virgin Galactic
It is noteworthy that Blue Origin's NS16 mission crossed the Kármán line, an imaginary line located at an altitude of 100 kilometers from the Earth's surface where Blue Origin asserts that space begins. Earlier, Blue Origin compared Branson's mission to their own in tweets that claimed Virgin Galactic passengers didn't really fly to space since they didn't cross the Kármán line.
Crew, rocket return to Earth safely
Meanwhile, after jettisoning the crew capsule, the New Shepard rocket made a safe descent back to Earth, landing upright at a short distance from where it was launched. The autonomously-piloted crew capsule also made a soft touchdown aided by parachutes after spending minutes in space.
Capsule reached a max altitude of 107 kilometers
The capsule reached an altitude of 351,210 feet (107.04 kilometers) called apogee. Blue Origin claims that the four crew members joined the list of 570 people who have ever flown above the Kármán line. The capsule briefly reached Mach 3 velocity but still slowed down to 16 mph prior to landing. The families reunited with the crew at the landing site itself.