Kent-based Blue Origin successfully completed New Shepard’s first human flight on Tuesday with a crew of Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen.
All four officially became astronauts on July 20 when they passed the Kármán line, the internationally recognized boundary of space about 62 miles up, according to Blue Origin.
Upon landing, the astronauts were greeted by their families and Blue Origin’s ground operations team for a celebration in the West Texas desert after the 10-minute, 10-second flight.
“You look at this thing and you see how small you are,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and of Blue Origin and Amazon, in an interview with CBS News. “The world is big, the atmosphere is small. You see there are no boundaries, no lines… this world is full of not enough unifiers and too many vilifiers.”
Funk, 82, one of several women who trained to become an astronaut in the 1960s but never made it to space, became the oldest person to fly in space. Daemen, 18, a student from the Netherlands, was the first ever commercial astronaut to purchase a ticket and fly to space on a privately-funded and licensed space vehicle from a private launch site. He also became the youngest person to fly in space. Jeff and Mark Bezos became the first siblings to ever fly in space together.
New Shepard became the first commercial vehicle under a suborbital reusable launch vehicle license to fly paying customers, both payloads and astronauts, to space and back.
“Today was a monumental day for Blue Origin and human spaceflight,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. “I am so incredibly proud of Team Blue, their professionalism, and expertise in executing today’s flight. This was a big step forward for us and is only the beginning.”
Blue Origin expects to fly two more crewed flights this year, with many more crewed flights planned for 2022. People can purchase seats on the flights, although Blue Origin has not publicly released the price of the seats.
Blue Origin employs more than 3,500 across the nation and more than 2,500 in Kent. The company’s goals include offering people rides into space and eventually to have people living and working in space. The company opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.
Blue Origin launched New Shepard at 6:12 a.m. The maximum ascent velocity was 2,233 mph. Once the capsule separated from the booster, the crew of four were able to unbuckle their harnesses and experience weightlessness. Parachutes helped the capsule land safely.
“Best day ever!” Jeff Bezos said as the capsule landed in the West Texas desert.
During a press conference after the flight, Bezos thanked the team and others.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this,” he said.
Jeff Bezos also shared his thoughts prior to the press conference during an interview with MSNBC Reports.
“We have to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build the future…when you get up and there you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is, we need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry and move it into space, and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is,” he said. “That’s going to take decades and decades but you have to start.”