and Blue Origin
, the billionaire Amazon
founder's space travel
company, have completed their mission, transporting the oldest, youngest, and wealthiest humans ever to fly in space.
Blue Origin's fully automated New Shepard rocket
launched from West Texas
on Tuesday, carrying Bezos, the world's richest person; his brother Mark Bezos; aerospace pioneer Wally Funk
, 82; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutchman.
“You have a very happy crew up here,” a male voice could be heard saying as the rocket soared amid a chorus of “woo hoo” thrill-ride whoops.
Once the capsule reached the edge of space, the four passengers were given three to four minutes to unbuckle their seatbelts and float around.
The booster was the first component of the flight to return to Earth
, landing vertically at the launch pad about seven minutes after takeoff, followed by the crew members and New Shepard a few minutes later, slowed by parachutes. The ride lasted ten minutes.
After successfully landing, Bezos was seen waving and giving a thumbs-up through a capsule window as the astronauts
were greeted by friends
, crew members, and bottles of champagne, among them Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sánchez.
Blue Origin (@blueorigin) shared this post on Instagram
Bezos, 57, is estimated to have a fortune of $205.1 billion; however, according to tax returns obtained by ProPublica, he paid no federal income
tax in 2007, 2011, or 2018, and paid a true tax rate of just 0.98% between 2014 and 2018, despite his wealth increasing by $99 billion.
Bezos credited his ability to pioneer space travel to his extreme wealth once he was back on solid ground.
“I also want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this,” he said after the flight at a press conference.
The rocket launch commemorated the 52nd anniversary
of the Apollo 11 moon
landing, and it came just days after billionaire businessman Richard Branson
flew to the edge of space, an altitude of around 50 miles, before returning to Earth on July 11.
Funk is Blue Origin's first paying customer, six decades after training with 12 other female pilots, known as Mercury 13, for such a ride in the early 1960s. Funk takes the title of oldest person to fly to space from the late astronaut John Glenn, who flew to space for the final time
at the age of 77.
Daemen secured his seat at the last minute after the winning bidder for his seat, which sold for $28 million last month, was unable to make the flight due to a scheduling conflict and agreed to take a later flight.
According to The Associated Press
, Daemen was given the seat after his father
, who participated in the auction, agreed to a lower undisclosed price last week.
Blue Origin's launch on Tuesday was the company's first with people
on board; the company has been testing its rocket since 2012 and claims 15 successful consecutive launches, including three successful escape tests.
This year, Blue Origin intends to operate two additional passenger flights.