Today is the fifty-second anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is making a special delivery in honor of the day. His launch provider company Blue Origin has mad a sub-orbital trip to space. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recently approved Blue Origin’s license to launch Bezos and three other passengers to the very edge of space, which is exactly what they did. Their six story tall rocket ship, named “New Shepard” sent the crew capsule about sixty-two miles high. There they spend a few minutes in microgravity before hurtling back down towards the Earth where it landed with the help of parachutes in the West Texas desert.
This is quite the year for space tourism as we saw billionaire Richard Branson fly to space with his company Virgin Galactic just nine days ago. Branson with three others took their spaceship Unity II on a ride that started up a few weeks of attitude from Blue Origin. Branson’s mission was to take place later in the year but “coincidentally” bumped up his timeline shortly after the announcement was made for Blue Origin to fly on July 20th.
Flying alongside Bezos was his brother, Mark Bezos, Who owns his own marketing firm, is a volunteer fire fighter and serves on the leadership council of Robin hood. No not the stock market app, this Robin Hood is New York based nonprofit organization that fights poverty. Wally Funk is fulfilling her life long mission of becoming an astronaut. Her journey began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program, which was a privately funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness. Later the group was called the “Mercury 13” as there was thirteen women who successfully endured the same hardship screenings that all NASA astronaut candidates went through. They never got their chance in space, but Funk went on to become the first female FAA inspector. At eighty-two years old she is now the oldest person to ever fly into space, a record previously held by John Glenn when he flew on STS-95 at the age of seventy-seven.
Today’s lift off occurred at 9:11 Am Est from their West Texas launch site. The New Shepard rocket with its four person crew sped towards the heavens, quickly passing Mach 3 on their way up. Once the capsule and rocket separated the four space travelers were free to unclip their harnesses and experience a few moments of weightlessness. “We had a great time, it was wonderful,” Funk said, adding that she just wished it was longer and that she had extra room for some somersaults in weightlessness. “I want to go again, fast!”. The crew inside their capsule touched safely down back in the desert just about ten and a half minutes after lift off ending their mission.