It is somewhat reminiscent of the piloting competition of May 1927, during which Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic alone. But now, almost 100 years later, the destination is not Paris, but a private flight into suborbital space. British billionaire Richard Branson, 70, made it just over a week ago by reaching an altitude of 86 kilometers with five other astronauts from his company Virgin Galactic.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 57, added a few kilometers on Tuesday and flew about four minutes about 107 kilometers above earth with the capsule from his space company Blue Origin. Since the space limit for the US space agency Nasa is 80.5 kilometers, but the FAI set the limit of 100 kilometers, Bezos absolutely wanted to fly that high so that his customers could receive the badge of coveted astronaut.
As Branson took off with a Spaceport America carrier plane into the New Mexico desert, Bezos took off shortly after 8 p.m. local time north of the village of Van Horn in the West Texas desert in a spacecraft while also reusable. “Let’s light the candle,” said Ariane Cornell, director of Blue Origin, referring to a saying by first American astronaut Alan Shepard when it was launched in 1961. The rocket accelerated to around 3,600 kilometers per hour before the capsule failed. ‘reaches an altitude of 75 kilometers. was separated and continued to fly fully automatically. In the meantime, the booster has also landed. After a good ten minutes the flight was over, the capsule floated on three parachutes on the desert floor.
The “best day ever”
Also on board were Bezos’ brother Mark, 53, pilot Wally Funk, 82, and Dutchman Oliver Daemen. The 18-year-old replaces the unknown winner of an auction, who bought a seat in the capsule for $ 28 million – but is now only on a subsequent flight for scheduling reasons.
Open detailed view
Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen (left to right) on their way to space.
That passenger list alone secured several firsts for Bezos, despite the somewhat later start: Daemen was the first paying passenger on a suborbital flight – and is now also the youngest person in space to date. . Wally Funk, who invited Bezos on the flight, is also the oldest space traveler in history. As early as the 1960s, she belonged to the so-called “Mercury 13”, a group of women that NASA had selected for a possible space mission in the Mercury program, but for which only men were ultimately allowed to fly. Among them was John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, then flew back into space in 1998 at the age of 77 for a few days aboard the space shuttle. He was the oldest astronaut ever since.
In general, Bezos seems to have a fancy for history-laden symbols: he chose July 20 as his start date, exactly 52 years after Apollo 11’s first manned moon landing, and named his rocket after Alan Shepard. , which was on a suborbital. for only 15 minutes in 1961 The flight was en route.
It was the “best day ever,” the crew announced after landing, before the four new astronauts exited the capsule in good spirits. The weightlessness was a “very pleasant experience” and the view on earth was “the deepest,” Bezos later told reporters. What many low-paid employees at his large internet store are likely to view as sarcasm: He also thanked Amazon employees and customers – “because you paid for everything.”
There seems to be great interest in space tourism
Blue Origin now plans to launch two more flights with paying passengers in the fall. Interest in space tourism appears to be great: Company boss Bob Smith spoke of 7,500 interested people from 150 countries at the auction. Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s company, claims it already has 600 reservations. According to industry estimates, the airfare is expected to increase to $ 250,000 – per ticket.
Analysts are predicting a multibillion-dollar market by 2030, which Branson and Bezos want to skim as much as possible. Critics therefore accuse them of wasting a lot of money whatever the climate and largely without scientific research interests.