Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket First Human Launch and Return a Success

The crew capsule carrying Jeff Bezos and three others landed successfully. He was flying on the New Shepard, the rocket ship made by his space company, Blue Origin. The flight took a total of 11 minutes achieving an apogee of 65 miles above Earth.

The astronauts aboard were able to unbuckle from their seats and briefly experience weightlessness, reportedly for about three minutes. The flight went above the Kármán Line, often acknowledged as the official beginning of space. The Kármán line is described as an attempt to define a boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. It iss defined to be 100 kilometers (54 nautical miles; 62 miles; 330,000 feet) above Earth at mean sea level. It is higher/farther than Sir Richard Branson went in his historic launch earlier this month.

The others aboard included Mark Bezos, brother of Jeff Bezos; 82-year-old Wally Funk, a pilot and one of the Mercury 13 a group of women who trained to go to space in the 20th century but never got the opportunity to do so; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year old and Blue Origin’s first paying customer whose father purchased his ticket for an undisclosed amount.

As the astronauts aboard waited for the hatch to be opened after ensuring any static electricity built up on the reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere was discharged, Jeff Bezos said inside the capsule that it was the “best day ever” when queried for his astronaut status check.

The company and Bezos say they want to democratize space and issued a statement about their goals: “Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos with the vision of enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth. To preserve Earth, Blue Origin believes that humanity will need to expand, explore, find new energy and material resources, and move industries that stress Earth into space. Blue Origin is working on this today by developing partially and fully reusable launch vehicles that are safe, low cost, and serve the needs of all civil, commercial, and defense customers.”

Images show the launch, return and exiting the capsule. All images courtesy of Blue Origin.