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Jeff Bezos blasts into space on own rocket: ‘Best day ever!’

VAN HORN, Texas — Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

The Amazon founder was accompanied by a hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

“Best day ever!” Bezos said when the capsule touched down on the desert floor in remote West Texas after the 10-minute flight. Named after America’s first astronaut, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket soared on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a date chosen by Bezos for its historical significance. He held fast to it, even as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson pushed up his own flight from New Mexico in the race for space tourist dollars and beat him to space by nine days.

Unlike Branson’s piloted rocket plane, Bezos’ capsule was wholly automated and required no official staff on board for the up-and-down flight. Blue Origin reached an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot (18-meter) booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough before separating and landing upright.

During several minutes of weightlessness, a video from inside the capsule showed the four unbuckling from their seats and floating around, sharing Skittles and throwing balls. Cheering, whooping, and exclamations of “wow” could be heard. The capsule landed under parachutes, with Bezos and his guests briefly experiencing nearly six times the force of gravity, or 6 G’s, on the way back.

Led by Bezos, they climbed out of the capsule after touchdown with wide grins, embracing parents, partners, and children, then popped open bottles of sparkling wine, spraying one another.

Their flight lasted 10 minutes and 10 seconds — five minutes shy of Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight in 1961. Shepard’s two daughters, Laura and Julie, were introduced at a press conference a few hours later.

Sharing Bezos’ dream-come-true adventure was Wally Funk, from the Dallas area, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-male astronaut corps in the early 1960s but never made it into space.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get it up there,” Funk said at the press conference.

Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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