Today was a big day for Blue Origin, as the company launched the first human flight on its New Shepard rocket. Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos was on this initial crewed flight, joined by his brother Mark Bezos, an 18-year-old student named Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk, one of the Mercury 13 and – after today – officially the oldest person to fly to space.
It appears that the New Shepard’s first human suborbital flight went off without a hitch. The entire flight lasted a little over 10 minutes, with the astronauts aboard the New Shepard feeling the weightlessness of zero-gravity for about three minutes during the mission. Main engine cutoff occurred about two minutes and 20 seconds into the flight, with the crew capsule separating from the New Shepard booster shortly thereafter.
After the rocket booster separated from the crew capsule and began its descent back to Earth (where it landed seemingly without problem), the crew capsule continued to its max apogee of 105km above ground level. Blue Origin’s goal with this launch was to cross the Kármán Line, which is considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The Kármán Line is 100km up, so with a max apogee of 105km above ground level, it looks like this New Shepard flight hit its goal.
After reaching apogee, the Crew Capsule began its descent to Earth, eventually deploying a trio of parachutes that helped slow its descent to a mere 16 miles per hour. The Ceww Capsule touched down in the desert with a total mission time of 10 minutes and 10 seconds, and the four crew members even opened a bottle of champagne with Blue Origin’s recovery crew right outside the capsule.
It was certainly an impressive mission for Blue Origin, which aims to launch commercial flights just like this one for tourists. You can watch the entire broadcast from earlier today in the video embedded above, though if you’re only looking to watch the launch and not the preparation that led up to it, you’ll want to jump to about the 1 hour and 42-minute mark.