Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon turned private space entrepreneur and philanthropist, boarded a 60ft rocket in the West Texas desert on Tuesday morning for a trip to the lower part of the space.
The rocket, built by his private space company, Blue Origin, was designed to push the world’s richest man and three others to a height of more than 100 km.
They were due to experience three or four minutes of fattening and views of the Earth through the giant porticoes that society has nicknamed “the largest windows in space,” before their capsule drifted back to the desert floor under three parachutes .
Bezos climbed the tower toward the capsule 30 minutes before the planned launch, after being driven to the racket in a Rivian electric van – the Amazon vehicle expected to become the main workhorse for its e-commerce deliveries. The day had dawned clear on the desert floor, after initial concerns that storms might disrupt flight preparations.
The founder of Amazon, who has been criticized for spending billions of dollars on his personal journey into space, has denied claims he had turned his back on more serious problems on Earth. “We’re going to build a road to space, to do wonderful things that will solve the problems here on Earth,” he told CNN ahead of Tuesday’s flight.
He said the development in space will end up relieving the weights of the planet, saying, “All the polluting industry will move out of the Earth, and the Earth will end up in a residential area.”
The 11-minute hike marks the launch of Blue Origin’s suborbital space tourism activity and the largest step up to Bezos ’grand plan to transform humanity into a space civilization.
The trip follows years of slow progress that has consumed billions of dollars of his personal fortune, and comes two weeks after the 57-year-old left as Amazon’s executive director to free himself from personal enthusiasm.
The e-commerce pioneer was beaten into space by Sir Richard Branson, who led a Virgin Galactic space plane at an altitude of 86km nine days ago. But while the British entrepreneur has turned to space tourism, Bezos has more expansive plans.
Blue Origin is also working on a giant rifle capable of orbiting, a family of engines it has offered to other race companies, and a lunar lander – things that, according to him, will benefit from its company’s first foray. to the edge of space.
The New Shepard rocket, named after American astronaut Alan Shepard, was to launch from a site near Van Horn, a dark streak of miserable motels surrounded by wilderness and scrubland where locals hoped for an economic boost from the new space company. .
In a rare hint of color and hope that marks the optimism the Amazon founder has promised to bring to the area, a large mural painted on a corner of the city depicts a smiling Bezos striking a heroic pose in the windows. aviator, a blue Earth looming behind him.
The launch marks the first for a paying passenger on a rocket to be developed entirely and managed by a private company. Oliver Daemen, 18, the son of a Dutch hedge fund manager, was given a last-minute seat on the flight after the unnamed winner of an auction sale for the seat shouted because of what the company called it “planning conflict”.
Bezos ’brother, Mark, and Wally Funk, 82, once a member of NASA’s first female ingestion that trained astronauts, will also be aboard the Blue Origin flight, their first to carry passengers.