Jeff Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, has always been fascinated by space. He was inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing as a child, and later by the vision of Gerard O’Neill, a physicist who imagined giant rotating habitats in orbit. Bezos founded Blue Origin, his private space company, in 2000, with the goal of making space travel more accessible and affordable. He has invested billions of dollars of his own fortune into the venture, and has said that Blue Origin is the most important work he is doing.
On July 20, 2021, Bezos fulfilled his lifelong dream of going to space. He boarded the New Shepard rocket, named after the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, along with his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Dutch student Oliver Daemen. The four passengers became the first crew of Blue Origin’s suborbital spacecraft, which reached an altitude of 107 kilometers (66 miles) above the Earth, crossing the Kármán line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.
The flight lasted about 11 minutes, during which the crew experienced weightlessness and enjoyed the view of the Earth’s curvature. They also wore cowboy hats and boots, a tribute to Bezos’ childhood hero, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk. The capsule landed safely in the Texas desert, where Bezos and his companions celebrated with champagne and hugs. Bezos called the experience “the best day ever” and thanked the Amazon employees and customers for making it possible.
The future of Blue Origin and space tourism
Bezos’ space trip was not just a personal adventure, but also a milestone for Blue Origin and the emerging industry of space tourism. The company plans to launch more flights with paying customers soon, and has already received over $100 million in ticket sales. Bezos said he wants to use the revenue from the tourism business to fund the development of more advanced rockets and spacecraft, such as the New Glenn orbital rocket and the Blue Moon lunar lander.
Bezos’ vision is to create a future where millions of people can live and work in space, using the abundant resources and energy available there. He believes that this will preserve the Earth and unleash human potential. He also hopes to inspire the next generation of space explorers and entrepreneurs, as he was inspired by his predecessors. “We need to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build the future,” he said.