Bezos and crew make history with Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight

What happens when a billionaire, his brother, a former Mercury 13 pilot, and a teenager go to space?
By | Published: July 20, 2021 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos after their historic spaceflight.

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Jeff Bezos has been in the news for many different things over the years, but never before for reaching space. That changed today: On July 20, Bezos — along with his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen — reached suborbital space inside a crew capsule carried atop Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket

Besides being the first crewed flight for the private aerospace company, this flight also saw both the oldest and youngest humans reach space. Funk — a former Mercury 13 member who is currently 82 years young — now holds the record as the oldest person to ever fly to space. Daemen, on the other hand, hasn’t even started college yet. The young Dutch participant rounded out the crew after the original participant — who secured his seat by bidding a whopping $28 million in an online auction — opted out of the flight.

The entire crewed mission took little more than 10 minutes to take off from West Texas, reach space, and safely touch down in the desert. The crew took a number of important spaceflight artifacts with them, including a piece of canvas from the Wright Brothers’ plane, a bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon, and Amelia Earhart’s goggles.

Unlike the space race of the 1960’s, this isn’t a fight between nations. Instead, it’s a race of the richest men in the world. On July 11, Sir Richard Branson boarded his own Virgin Galactic spaceplane and beat Bezos to space. (That, of course, depends on whether or not you view the Karman line as the boundary of space.) Meanwhile, SpaceX founder Elon Musk hasn’t made his own trip to space yet. But he has had his hand in the game, as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon successfully ferried multiple NASA astronaut teams to the International Space Station over the past year.

After today’s flight, Bezos announced that Blue Origin is open for ticket sales, and anyone interested in taking the same flight can do so. While the exact ticket cost wasn’t announced, those interested should expect a heavy price tag to venture into the stars.