Bezos And Blue Origin Team Break The Space Barrier


Billionaire Jeff Bezos, backed by the team at his company Blue Origin, achieved a life dream with today’s space flight. Accompanied by his brother Mark, teenager Oliver Daemen and early space pioneer Wally Funk (aged 82), the Amazon founder descended safely by parachute after the 10-minute, 10-second excursion outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule launched aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.

An ebullient Jeff Bezos emerged from the capsule to say, “Astronaut Bezos! Best day ever!” [“Astronaut Bezos” is his callsign.]

The passenger manifest gained notoriety for including the youngest astronaut, student Daemen, as well as the most senior. In the1960s heyday for space exploration, Wally Funk was a member of the group known as Mercury 13—women who completed the same rigorous training as their male counterparts but never got to launch into outer space. While preparing for the Blue Origin flight, she told of how she was anticipating the thrill of doing somersaults in the cabin.

Two minutes after the New Shepard lifted off at 9:12 (EDT) from the private launch site in Texas, the capsule separated and climbed to the 100-km altitude Karman Line, recognized as the edge of outer space. The passengers were weightless for about four minutes.

Avatar photo
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. If a man gains much wealth, does he become exemplary in how to use it? I have yet to see that happen. It has been said that a boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into. What will be said about space travel after you have done it?

    • So instead of the millions he spent designing and building the spacecraft, which by the way went to workers and companies building the thing, he should have given it to the government. They could have redistributed it to the workers that didn’t have jobs because he didn’t build it.

      Should Hatteras shut down it’s yacht building plant and fire everyone because yachts are useless?

    • In a struggling and growingly anemic aviation community we should be happy that someone is willing to invest ridiculous amounts of money into projects like these. Money that feeds someone’s family, in the USA. Can we be proud that it was 100% made here? Kind of sickens me when people think they should receive something for nothing. This project probably employs thousand of people in aerospace, all who have families and community. I’m not sure we still need charity when you give back at these levels. Those are definitely not underpaid jobs. I see numerous charities that his companies contribute to and these do not seem to be irresponsible organizations. If all he wanted for his contribution was one stupid ride on a rocket why not give it to him and cheer for everyone when it’s over because we are all looking like winners here. I’m having a hard time finding anything bad about this, maybe something funny. Nature physics and evolution have decided this is the perfect shape to get the job done and indeed you have to be proud of your, er, rocket. There is no shame in that. I’m not saying it’s intentional but If I was Jeff and saw all the trash you write this would definitely be the form I’d grab and say ..

  2. Pretty sad that people feel the need to knock others down for their success. I congratulate him for another milestone on the journey to the privatization of space travel. And no, I don’t work for him in any way/shape/form. I enjoy seeing people succeed and I’m not envious of their wealth nor controlling in how I wish they would spend what they’ve earned. If I could afford a ride to space some day (and who knows, as it becomes more common/private, maybe I will someday – just like airplane flights became affordable), I would jump for the opportunity to see earth from an entirely new perspective!

    • Agreed Tom. Back to Columbus sailing the ocean, every time mankind reaches out to explore there is criticism that we should just say within our existing world and spend the money better. We all wouldn’t be living here if that doctrine was followed.

    • I too agree about accomplishments. Elon Musk provides a company to supply a much needed transportation solution to ferrying men, women and cargo to the ISS while Jeff Bezos created a transportation vehicle for the public to ride up into space. I’m ambivalent to both and can imagine the research, costs and expensive trials and errors before successfully carrying humans in each endeavor. Both serves a purpose. While many may criticise Bezos’ actions as nothing more than a very expensive thrill ride, many ignore this and sign up willingly.

      Try imagining being around 8 yrs old and somehow convincing your dad to go on the Coney Island parachute ride. My dad rarely spoke about his experiences as a WWII army veteran but he rode up with me as I clung to the left side cable as we went up. If I’m not mistaken, we sat on plain canvas or wooden bench seat and maybe belted in. No safety cage, sign offs against accidents. Researching ticket costs, adults – forty cents, children – twenty five cents. My parents were poor all their life so this was an unusual treat as my older brothers and sisters didn’t go on that ride. After looking down as we ascended, I looked out over the ocean and saw the gentle curve of this little orb we call Earth. Approaching seven decades and still recall this from memory. Many flights over the years, some across the ocean and the Coney Island parachute ride stands out in memory. Each of us has memories of the best things in life we have no control to experience a once in a lifetime thrill. Others with more resources do it often.

  3. Regardless of the motive for the two recent space events, super congratulations to the teams of scientists, engineers, and the many others that made both events work. Fantastic. And two totally different approaches of accomplishing space travel. I don’t care if the rich boys did it for more toys or not, and don’t know if they did. But we all benefited from their accomplishments, and it didn’t come out of my pocket….well…I am a big user of Amazon Prime. Another giant step for mankind, done by a team of private business US civilians.

  4. NASA and the Soviets defined space travel by actually going into earth orbit, then subsequently doing a re-entry. The only venture capitalist to have accomplished this is Elon Musk (Space X). My hat’s off to Musk. The other two are doing a very expensive carnival ride and calling it space flight.

    By this in-vogue definition of space flight, then the first U.S. space flight was accomplished in the X-15.

  5. Well, put his money where is mouth is I guess, and his butt on the line.

    Now if he would just get out of the way of fixing Amacrick, which again failed to deliver yesterday – local delivery operation continues to not read instructions to deliver during office hours. (Gate closes at 5pm.)

    I have a faint hope that the now largest shareholder post divorce will fix the declining outfit, but McKenzie Scott seems more interested in giving her money to charity.

    (Recall she drove from the east coast to Seattle while Jeffrey wrote the business plan for Amacrick, which they started in their garage, she administered the business initially (she did the grunt work).

    I say ‘Amacrick’ because like the creek when I was a child it dried up, we had to get water from miles away using horses.

  6. Perhaps most missed what is a significant achievement and that is there are now two companies who can return and land booster rockets for re-use. That is really a Buck Rogers like achievement. Hats off to both private companies who did what NASA apparently has never even tried to do. Let’s ditch capitalism for socialism and see how much more progress we do not make. Someone tell the younger folks.

  7. So what? It’s a 121 degrees F in British Columbia; we have important problems that require expensive, technically complex solutions. Meanwhile billionaires take minutes-long trips to space to gratify their egos and childhood fantasies. I’m not impressed.

    • The guy that brought you the first private maned space launch (Elon Musk, SpaceX) also made the electric car a reality. Without billionaires willing to pour money into a dream you’d still have nothing to watch except another Boeing Starliner delay, US astronauts launching on Russian rockets, and GM make incremental improvements on the EV1.

      • No, the guy who brought us the first private, manned space flight was Paul Allen, who funded the SpaceShipOne project. Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites actually designed and built the thing, along with the WhiteKnight launcher. On June 2, 2004, I was one of around 11,000 people who turned out to see test pilot Mike Melvill earn his astronaut wings (without an asterisk; he cleared 100km) at Mojave Spaceport. A truly extraordinary event.

        I’m a big fan of Musk and SpaceX, but they had nothing to do with SS1.

    • Then the right answer must be to control what they do with their money to be sure they spend it on things you believe are important. Better yet, take it from them so there is no doubt how it will be spent. Geez.

  8. Very early launches used monkeys on top of a V2 rocket. It appears the rockets are much better now for launching more advanced primates.
    “Another rhesus monkey named Albert II, for example, became the first primate to reach space, achieving an altitude of 83 miles (134 km) aboard another V2 in June 1949. He survived the launch but died after a parachute failure caused his capsule to slam hard into the ground”.

  9. I believe the ‘Space Rides’ most resemble “Barnstorming”. We just need to come up with a really cool name like ‘Barnstorming’. Everybody in Aviation should learn our Barnstorming history. Flying stunts cut a lot of peoples lives’ short but, many of our greatest Aviation engineers and pilots were inspired by these same death defying thrill seeking stunts. Watch documentaries and movies if you don’t like reading. Quite a few of the advancements in Aviation came from the competitiveness of upping each other in the name of entertainment.

    Just like today’s Aviation Vloggers, folks like the Flying Cowboys are giving Aviation the next level boost that it desperately needs. If you think all this high adventure and risk is over the top and unnecessary? DON’T WATCH, sorry, bad things sometimes happen.

    Southeast Alaska was always a very risky place to travel before moving map GPS. Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) was way too common place. These pilots who experienced CFIT became the justification needed for funding of the Capstone Electric Flight Instrument (EFIS) project. The EFIS technology was coming to the cockpit sooner or later but, the multi-million dollar Capstone Project pushed that time line. That was only 18 years ago.

  10. I give Jeff Bezos credit for emulating Elon Musk in advancing private space travel. In addition to his New Shepherd “toy” he is also developing the much larger New Glenn rocket that, if successful, will do some serious launch activities. His company also designed a moon lander system that was in competition with Musk and his Starship. NASA chose the Starship over Bezos’ design, but it was more an economic decision than one of technical capabilities. I’m pretty sure we haven’t heard the last of Blue Origin in deep space ventures. In any case, I congratulate him and his team for this first accomplishment and look forward to more.

  11. I read today that Musk won’t get Astronaut wings–the FAA changed the criteria the day before to “crewmembers only”. If that’s the case, Wally Funk STILL won’t have astronaut wings–you can bet a lot female pilots will be “up in the air” over THAT!