Billionaire Jeff Bezos has successfully blasted into space in the first crewed flight of his rocket ship.
Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man and founder of Amazon, landed safely back on Earth with his crew following a successful launch by Blue Origin.
He was accompanied by Mark Bezos, his brother, Wally Funk, an 82-year-old space race pioneer, and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen.
Funk is the oldest person who has ever been to space and Daemen is the youngest.
The wealthiest man in history fulfiled his life-long dream 52 years to the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
After the capsule touched down, Bezos said: “Astronaut Bezos: Best day ever!”
The capsule had the biggest windows flown in space, offering stunning views of the Earth.
The rocket lifted off just after 2pm BST (9am EDT) from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas.
Bezos was risking his life to prove that Blue Origin could safely fly humans to the edge of space.
Expert George Neild said the flight was “about 10,000 times more dangerous than flying on a commercial airliner”.
“Bezos is a risk-taker,” John Logsdon, founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, told Insider.
“He certainly understands that there are risks involved, and probably has a good handle on how risky it is.”
Bezos previously addressed the safety concerns that had been raised by individuals close to him.
He said: “I could have done this flight as CEO of Amazon and it would have been fine. We really believe this flight is safe. I did have friends say, ‘why not wait for the second or third flight, why do you have to go now?’
“But we know the vehicle is safe and if it’s not safe for me then it’s not safe for anyone. But we’ve taken this one step at a time, our mascot is the tortoise… we are ready.”
New Shepard has flown successfully before — 15 times — but this was the first time with humans onboard.
The spaceship was built to serve a growing market for space tourism – and Bezos is not the only billionaire competing in the market.
Richard Branson and Elon Musk also want to conquer the developing public-private space industry.
Branson with Virgin Galactic, and Musk with SpaceX.
But not everyone is happy with the plans.
Critics have slammed the billionaires, saying that the money they are spending could be better used on Earth.
They’ve suggested their money should be used to tackle global issues such as climate change, economic inequality and the pandemic.
The petition reads: “Jeff Bezos has attained the crown of world’s richest man, and he wears it proudly.
“He is arguably both fiscally and emotionally disconnected not just from a majority of humanity, but from a majority of what makes us human.
“And now he looks to fulfil total separation by leaving Earth’s atmosphere via means of a personally funded rocket ship.
“The recent billionaire space odyssey competition is a slap in the face to working-class folks struggling paycheck to paycheck just to survive.
“Whether they are struggling with food insecurity, healthcare, shelter, or access to clean water, these issues have a price tag that isn’t quite as unfathomable as the idle billionaires, corporate lobbyists, and Washington bureaucrats would have you believe.”
As well as the serious points that the petition raises, it also makes some hilarious digs at the world’s richest person.
One part reads: “Billionaires and corporations should pay their fair share. Until then, Jeff Bezos can stay in space until he finds which intergalactic asteroid core contains his compassion and humanity.”
What do you think of the billionaire’s space race?