Sunday, September 24, 2023

Bezos completes voyage to edge of space

Under the picturesque dawn sky of the West Texas desert, Jeff Bezos, the 57-year-old ex-Amazon CEO and founder of space tourism company Blue Origin, rocketed into space for a brief moment, calling it, “the first step of something big,” CNET reports. It happened 52 years to the day since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin pressed their boot prints into the moon. Atop the Blue Origin rocket, locked inside a gumdrop-shaped capsule, Bezos, his brother Mark, aeronautics legend Wally Funk and 18-year-old customer Oliver Daemen headed off toward the invisible, arbitrary boundary separating Earth and space as part of mission NS-16. Approximately three minutes after liftoff, the crew experienced weightlessness for the first time and touched the edge of space. Hoots and hollers erupted from the cabin, and staticky calls of “that’s awesome” permeated the live broadcast. In that fleeting moment, they joined an exclusive new club for “commercial astronauts,” which, prior to the mission, numbered only 10. The capsule reached a peak altitude of around 106 kilometers, then made a quick descent to solid ground. Simultaneously, the New Shepard rocket that had carried the capsule to the edge of infinity was calmly falling back to Earth. It touched down gently in the West Texas desert about seven minutes after liftoff. At approximately eight minutes and 30 seconds after flight, the capsule’s parachutes deployed and brought it safely to land. The feat came 11 days after Richard Branson’s flight on the Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

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