Launch Site One: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company blasted its third private crew into space on Saturday and brought it back safely, this time like the daughter of the very first American astronaut.
The stubby white spacecraft with a round tip blasted off into clear blue skies over West Texas for a roughly 11-minute trip to just beyond the internationally recognized boundary of space, 62 miles (100 kilometres) high.
The six-member crew hooted with glee because they unbuckled to savor a couple of minutes of weightlessness, looking out at space through tall windows in the capsule.
“I’ve never seen anything that way,” one unidentified crew member said as Blue Origin live-streamed the flight.
The capsule quickly returned to Earth for a mild parachute landing in the desert, kicking up a cloud of dust because it touched down.
Bezos and other company officials rushed to greet the crew members because they emerged smiling from the capsule. The booster rocket touched down separately and also safely.
“We had a good flight today,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement.
Laura Shepard-Churchley, whose father Alan Shepard became the very first American to happen to be space in 1961, flew as a guest of Blue Origin.
The company’s suborbital rocket is certainly named “New Shepard” in honour of the pioneering astronaut.
Michael Strahan, an American football Hall of Famer turned TV personality, was also a guest, while there were four paying customers: space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and Cameron Bess.
Lane and Cameron Bess became the very first parent-child pair to fly in space. Ticket prices have not been disclosed.
Alan Shepard made US history with a 15-minute suborbital space flight on May 5, 1961, just under per month after the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin became the very first human in space, orbiting the planet.
Shepard, who died in 1998, continued to be the fifth of 12 men to possess set foot on the Moon.
“It’s sort of fun for me personally to state a genuine Shepard will fly on the New Shepard,” Shepard-Churchley, who runs a basis that promotes science and raises funds for college students, said in a movie prior to the flight. “I’m very proud of my father’s legacy.”
Previous Blue Origin flights took the company’s billionaire founder Bezos in addition to Star Trek actor William Shatner to space.
Bezos, who made his fortune with Amazon, envisages a future where humanity disperses through the solar system, living and employed in giant space colonies with artificial gravity.
This, he says, would leave Earth as a pristine tourism destination just like national parks today.
The year 2021 has been significant for the area tourism sector, with Virgin Galactic also flying its founder Richard Branson to the last frontier, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX sending four private citizens on a three-day orbital mission for charity.