Jeff Bezos travelled to the edge of space and back in 11 minutes

Photo: EPA

The richest man on Earth, Jeff Bezos, fulfilled his childish dream – to fly to the space. Accompanied by his brother Mark, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk, he flew on Tuesday morning local time to the edge of space on board of the New Shepard Blue Origin rocket.

Bezos is the second billionaire this month to reach the edge of space. Richard Branson rocketed there last week aboard a vessel made by his company Virgin Galactic. The date of the New Shepard's maiden launch is no accident: 20 July was the day in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.

The New Shepard suborbital flight path was designed to go just higher than the Kármán Line, which is often considered the boundary of space: about 100 km (62 miles) above Earth. That line has been a sticking point in the space race between Bezos and Branson. Branson's SpaceShipTwo hit a peak altitude of around 282,000 feet – higher than NASA's designated Earth-Space boundary of 50 miles, but short of the Kármán Line.

About three minutes into the flight, the booster separated from the crew capsule. Then the New Shepard passed the Kármán Line, with hoots of celebration heard over the in-shuttle audio. The capsule remained in the skies longer, floating against blue skies. At about the eight-minute mark of the flight, parachutes deployed from the capsule, to give the crew an easy touchdown.

The capsule touched down in the desert sand, and a soft plume of dust rose around them. All together, the mission lasted roughly 11 minutes from take off to touchdown. After the capsule landed, cars arrived carrying crews to open the hatch and videographers to document the moment. Scant winds meant the capsule landed where it was expected to. Jeff Bezos stepped off the capsule first, followed by Daemen. Then Funk emerged, her arms flung out in glee. Mark Bezos came out last, and the four embraced family and friends.

The launch is a big day for Bezos, but it's primarily an advertisement for Blue Origin's space tourism program. The company's webcast touted that interested viewers should get in touch about booking a spot on a future Blue Origin flight. Two more flights are scheduled for 2021.

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