Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon.com and Blue Origin, is now a space tourist himself after taking his first crewed flight this week with two other passengers on board New Shepard in order to experience weightlessness for 10 minutes from outer space at 100 km altitude before returning back safely to Earth!
The capsule has windows which provide stunning views of the blue planet below while traveling through low-Earth orbit (LEO) where it was briefly slowed down by our atmosphere’s friction drag as if descending into an ocean – albeit one without water – until finally coming gently back down thanks to parachutes opening like umbrellas.
Bezos exclaimed “Best day ever!” upon their safe return; he said that seeing earthrise “made me realize
Amazon founder Mr Bezos has been criticised for his participation in the “billionaire space race”, but he insists that it is only natural to want to explore and invest in outer-space. In an interview with MSNBC, when asked about what critics see as joy rides for the super-wealthy, Bezos said: “We need to take all heavy industry, polluting industries like steel mills or chemical plants of any kind — we need them off Earth because they’re just too toxic.” He expressed hope that this would help clean up our planet so people can continue living on earth without feeling guilty about their high carbon emissions.
“It’s going to take decades and decades to achieve, but you have to start, and big things start with small steps… that’s what this sub-orbital tourism mission allows us to do, it allows us to practice over and over.”
The spacecraft lifted off at 14:12 BST (09:12 EDT) from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas. At 18 kilometers up the capsule separated from its rocket and continued upwards towards the Karman Line -the most widely recognized boundary of space that lies 100km up. There’s nothing quite like watching people take their first steps on another world!
The newly minted-astronauts shouted “wow!” and cheered as they watched birds fly by below them back when there was still some blue sky in view before it got too dark outside for human eyes to see anything but stars or other planets without telescopes – all unknowns now seen with new clarity through Earth’s thin atmosphere close enough to touch if you dared extend
The post-flight briefing was shown video of the occupants performing somersaults and tumbles during four minutes of weightlessness. Stunning views of the Earth could be seen outside.
Jeff Bezos said he was surprised by the sensation of microgravity: “It felt so normal,” he explained.
Ms Funk added: “It was great, I loved it, I can hardly wait to go again.”
In the 1960s, Ms Funk was one member of a group of women called the Mercury 13. They underwent the same screening tests as male astronauts, but never got to fly under the US national space programme.