Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.
Bezos blasted off with his brother Mark and two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space.
Funk, who was barred from NASA’s initially all-male astronaut corps in the 1960s, finally got her chance to prove the naysayers wrong, realizing a lifelong dream.
The crew lifted off from the company’s West Texas launch site at 9:12 a.m. EDT.
Climbing straight up atop 110,000 pounds of push, the rocket rapidly accelerated as it consumed its load of supercold liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants, pushing the passengers back in their recliner-style seats with about three times the normal force of gravity.
Under a set of parachutes, the Blue Origin spacecraft returned to land, firing its thrusters briefly to cushion its touchdown for the four passengers inside. The company’s recovery crew is headed out to the landing site in the Texas desert, where they will open the capsule’s hatch from the outside.
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