Today the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, lifted off from a site in West Texas with three other people, fulfilling a key goal of his private rocket company. It was a brief jaunt — rising 60-some miles into the sky above West Texas — in a spacecraft that was built by Mr. Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin.
The booster landed vertically, similar to the reusable Falcon 9 booster of the rival spaceflight company SpaceX. The capsule then descended until it gently set down in a puff of dust.
Four people flew today on Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, and while one of them,82-year-old Wally Funk is a pilot, her decades of experience was not required to fly the rocket.
That’s because New Shepard is fully autonomous. Blue Origin has spent the better part of the last decade running the suborbital New Shepard rocket through a series of successful test flights that have been fully automated and, thus far, carried no humans. Today’s flight marked the first time it carried people on board.
Mr. Bezos brought along his younger brother. Mark Bezos, 50, who has lived a more private life. He is a co-founder and general partner at HighPost Capital, a private equity firm. Mark Bezos previously worked as head of communications at the Robin Hood Foundation, a charity that aids anti-poverty efforts in New York City.
Another crew member was, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old student from the Netherlands who lucked into the flight when the winner of an auction for the fourth seat had to postpone.