Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin Company blew its third private crew into space on Saturday, bringing it back safely, including the daughter of the first American astronaut.
The thick white spacecraft with a circular tip exploded in clear blue skies over West Texas at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers) for a journey of about 11 minutes beyond the internationally recognized boundaries of space.
The six-member crew rejoiced to enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness as they looked into space through the capsule’s long window.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said an anonymous crew member as the Blue Origin flight was live-streamed.
The capsule quickly returns to Earth for a gentle parachute landing in the desert, kicking a cloud of dust as it touches.
Bezos and other company officials rushed to greet the crew members as they emerged from the capsules smiling. The booster rocket touched down separately and safely.
“We had a great flight today,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement.
Laura Shepard-Churchley, whose father Alan Shepard became the first American to travel in space in 1961, flew as a guest on Blue Origin.
The company’s suborbital rocket has been named the new Shepard in honor of the pioneer astronaut.
Michael Strahan, a TV personality who became the American Football Hall of Famer, was also a guest, with four paying customers: space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, founder of Base Ventures Lane Base and Cameron Base.
Lane and Cameron Base became the first parent-child pair to fly into space. Ticket prices were not disclosed.
Alan Shepard made U.S. history on May 15, 1961 with a 15-minute suborbital space flight, just one month after Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union became the first man to orbit the planet.
Shepard, who died in 1998, was the fifth of 12 people to set foot on the moon.
“It’s kind of funny for me to say a real Shepard will fly in the new Shepard,” Shepard-Churchley, who runs a foundation that promotes science and raises funds for college students, said in a video before the flight. “I am very proud of my father’s legacy.”
Previous Blue Origin flights have taken the company’s billionaire founder Bezos and Star Trek actor William Shatner into space.
Bezos, who made his fortune with the Amazon, envisioned a future where humanity would spread across the solar system, living and working in vast space colonies with artificial gravity.
He said it would leave the world today as a primitive tourist destination like a national park.
The year 2021 was significant for the space tourism sector, Virgin Galactic also flew its founder Richard Branson to the final frontier and Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent four private citizens on a three-day orbital mission for charity work.