Just a few days after Richard Branson, another billionaire tried out his own spaceship: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took a short trip into space with his “New Shepard”.
Van Horn – With a cowboy hat and thumbs up, Jeff Bezos was the first to step out of the space capsule in the morning sun of the West Texas desert – and first of all he hugged his parents.
Then the Amazon founder and richest person in the world celebrated the first manned all-excursion of the spaceship “New Shepard” of his company Blue Origin with a champagne shower on Tuesday. Together with the 57-year-old, his brother Mark as well as an 82-year-old former US pilot and an 18-year-old Dutchman were passengers on the approximately ten-minute all excursion. Around ten days ago, another billionaire, Richard Branson, had tested his own spaceship.
82-year-old Wally Funk is now the oldest person who has ever flown into space – 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, whose father gave him the flight, the youngest. The first thing that Daemen hugged after landing was his father, a Dutch investment banker. “It was so incredible to see the earth from above,” he said later. “I hope that many more people can experience this.” Funk raised his hands as he stepped out of the capsule. “Oh my God! That was so good! ”Christina Bezos, sister of Jeff and Mark, had reminded her brothers in a speech before the flight how they had always played“ Spaceship Enterprise ”as children.
“My expectations were high and they were dramatically exceeded,” said Jeff Bezos at a press conference after the landing. The weightlessness was a “very pleasant experience” and the view of the earth was “the most profound”. Bezos also thanked all employees and customers of his online mail order company Amazon – “because you paid for everything”.
The fully automated flight started on Tuesday morning near the West Texas city of Van Horn from a company’s own spaceport. After launch, the spaceship accelerated to around 3,500 kilometers per hour within two minutes. Shortly afterwards, the capsule in which the four humans were separated from the reusable rocket. Weightlessness set in, the four passengers were allowed to leave their seats for a short time – laughter and cheers could be heard and sweets were made to float.
At its highest point, the capsule reached more than 100 kilometers above the earth before it landed in the west Texas desert, braked by large parachutes. “Best day ever,” could be heard from the capsule after landing. The rocket stage, which is also reusable, also landed vertically back on earth. The “New Shepard” named after Alan Shepard, the first US American in space, had already completed around 15 test flights, but had never flown into space with a man.
Bezos had announced the flight a few weeks ago – also in the expectation that it would become the first billionaire to test his own spaceship. Then, however, the Briton Richard Branson had pushed his way. His “VSS Unity” from his company Virgin Galactic had already risen to an altitude of around 86 kilometers in the US state of New Mexico on July 11. It is therefore disputed among experts whether Branson was actually in space: The International Aviation Association (FAI) and many other experts see 100 kilometers above the earth as the limit to space, but there are no binding international regulations.
Bezos had congratulated Branson on the all trip – and now Branson returned the congratulations. “Well done,” wrote the billionaire on Tuesday via the short message service Twitter. “Impressive!” The US space agency Nasa also congratulated. “We look forward to future flights with scientists and NASA cargo on board.”
In addition to fulfilling their own dreams, the billionaires also hope to enter the space tourism business. Blue Origin has already announced two more flights for this year – and repeatedly advertised the sale of tickets during the live broadcast of the Bezos All-Excursion. He would also like to fly again himself, said Bezos. Critics accuse the billionaires of wasting a lot of money regardless of the climate and largely without scientific research interests. dpa