With company founder Jeff Bezos on board, a Blue Origin spacecraft completed the company’s first passenger journey into space on Tuesday morning.
The company’s New Shepard rocket carried Bezos, his brother Mark, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen past the Kármán line – the internationally recognized boundary of space.
Funk is a renowned pilot who was the first female FAA inspector and first female NTSB air safety investigator. The 82-year old is a member of the Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville and is now the oldest person to ever travel to space.
At age 18, Daemen holds the distinction of being the youngest person to fly in space.
Total flight time was 10 minutes, 10 seconds before a parachute aided touchdown in the West Texas desert. The spacecraft achieved a maximum ascent velocity of 2,233 mph.
Blue Origin has grown its footprint in the Yellowhammer State in recent years.
RELATED: Blue Origin’s Club for the Future foundation donates $1 million to U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Blue Origin is currently operating a full-rate engine manufacturing facility in the Rocket City, building BE-3U and BE-4 engines.
The BE-4 will be used to power United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Decatur-built Vulcan Centaur rockets. ULA’s selection of the BE-4 for this next-generation launch vehicle drew Blue Origin to Huntsville in the first place.
Blue Origin has refurbished the historic test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and has conducted extensive testing of its engines there.
Bezos and his space traveling companions flew atop the company’s New Shepard rocket, a vehicle named for astronaut Alan Shepard.
The crew rode inside a capsule specially configured for comfort. It has room for six and the largest set of windows ever flown into space.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and has reportedly pumped $1 billion annually into the company.
Tuesday’s flight was supposed to have been the first with a paying customer aboard after the company auctioned off a seat in the capsule. The winning bid was $28 million. However, the winning bidder could not make the trip due to a scheduling conflict. Daemen was given a seat in place of the winning bidder.
Prior to liftoff, the company provided footage of the four passengers making their way to the launch pad and into the spacecraft:
Scenes from #NSFirstHumanFlight astronaut load. pic.twitter.com/L7u1ZaYn60
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 20, 2021
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia
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