'Best day ever': Jeff Bezos gives the thumbs up after 11-minute ride to space
Jeff Bezos took the revolutionary trip with his brother Mark, flying 66 miles above the earth's surface
Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, officially became an astronaut after successfully launching into space on his New Shepard rocket, flying 66 miles above the Earth's surface, and returning back safely on a reusable capsule.
The Amazon founder took the revolutionary trip with his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, 18, who became the youngest person in space, and former NASA trainee Wally Funk, 82, who became the oldest woman in space. Originally scheduled for 9 am EDT, the launch was delayed by 12 minutes and reached space at 9.16 am EDT to clamor and cheers from the crew on the ground. See the video here:
Bezos shot a thumbs-up for audiences upon landing as he described the trip as the "best day ever" when asked for a "status check" by capcom. The crew experienced weightlessness for about four minutes and then traveled back to Earth to land in Texas. As the crew took in the heavenly experience, the booster returned to the landing pad for later use, just like Elon Musk's SpaceX rockets.
Wally Funk was heard shouting during the weightlessness phase, "It is dark up here". This was followed by a status check call from each of the crew members. Bezos reportedly had to remind Funk and Daemen to confirm.
The three stages of the flight lasted about three to four minutes each, per plan. The rocket launch caused up to three times the atmospheric pressure as on the surface, followed by a four-minute weightlessness phase which allowed the crew to absorb the Earth in all its glory, and finally a couple of minutes to descend to Texas.
The crew landed on Earth with a soft touchdown in the desert at 9.23 am EDT, prompting cheers and excitement from those on the ground. "That was incredible, that was unbelievable," the Amazon founder shouted in the capsule, adding that he "was surprised how easy zero-g was, remarkably natural." Mark likened the experience to swimming.
"Good Morning astronauts and welcome aboard the RSS First Steps," was the first message from Capcom as soon as all four astronauts were strapped to harnesses in the capsule. This was followed by a communications check and ultimately, the launch.
Christina Bezos sent a heartfelt message of support for her brothers as they prepared for their trip. She revisited childhood days when the siblings would pretend to be the crew of the Enterprise while traveling in a car.
"We are so excited for this monumental launch, Jeff this is something you've dreamed of your whole life," she said, adding that Mark was also an inspiration. She reminisced childhood days when Jeff would purportedly play the part of Captain Kirk and Mark assumed the role of Sulu during car rides.
"I would be and Uhura, as we would battle Klingons while firing torpedoes," she recalled. "Mark fire those torpedoes if ordered to do so," she quipped before the launch, adding they should "hurry up and get your a**es back so I can give you hug, godspeed New Shepard."