Earth’s richest man Jeff Bezos blasts off into space

Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, has officially joined the astronaut club after lifting off to space aboard his own Blue Origin rocket.

Blue Origin’s first crewed mission, an 11-minute hop from west Texas to beyond the Karman line and back again, coincided with the 52nd anniversary of the first Moon landing.

Blue Origin’s first human flight was slightly delayed Tuesday before launching Jeff Bezos and crewmates to space, the company said in a live broadcast.

Bezos founded Blue Origin back in 2000, with the goal of one day building floating space colonies with artificial gravity where millions of people will work and live.

Richest, oldest and youngest

Joining Bezos on the fully autonomous flight is barrier-breaking female aviator Wally Funk, who at 82 is set to be the oldest ever astronaut, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, the company’s first paying customer, who will become the youngest astronaut.

“It’s dark up here,” said the barrier-breaking Funk on Tuesday.

Rounding out the four-member crew is Jeff Bezos’ brother Mark, a financier who directs the Bezos Family Foundation and works as a volunteer firefighter.

The pair are best friends, and Jeff shared the moment he asked his younger sibling to join him in a viral video on Instagram last month.

Notably absent was the mysterious winner of a $28 million auction for a seat, who had “scheduling conflicts” and will take part in a future flight, and has asked to remain anonymous, the company said.

The mission comes days after Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson crossed the final frontier, narrowly besting the Amazon magnate in their battle of the billionaires.

But Blue Origin’s sights are set higher: both in the altitude to which its reusable New Shepard craft will ascend compared to Virgin’s spaceplane, but also in its ambitions.

“Today is just the first of many flights to come on New Shepard,” Blue Origin’s sale director Ariane Cornell said in a livestream, adding ticket sales were now open.

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