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(Pocket-lint) - Former Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, took a suborbital ride on 20 July using a rocket made by his space exploration company, Blue Origin. Bezos was beaten into space by fellow billionaire Richard Branson by some 9 days, but he went higher than Branson's Virgin Galactic maiden flight.

When did Jeff Bezos go to space?

The space flight happened on 20 July 2021, or the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Takeoff happened at 9am ET (2pm UK time) from the launch site in Texas. The whole flight lasted less than 15 minutes. 

How did he get to space?

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is a reusable, fully automated spacecraft with enough room for six passengers onboard. It looks more like a traditional space rocket with a capsule that sits atop of a booster. Once at the required height, the two separated, with the capsule falling back to Earth with the help of a parachute as the booster flies down. 

How deep into space did Jeff Bezos fly?

The New Shephard aimed for the Karman line, which is the altitude at which space begins. It's about 62 miles above sea level. Only a few minutes of Bezos' flight was spent above the Karman line. You can see a graphic of the flight trajectory on Blue Origin's website, or below.

Blue OriginHow to watch Jeff Bezos go to space for 11 minutes photo 1

How did it compare with Virgin Galactic?

Bezos' flight went 9 miles higher - or deeper, depending on how you see these things - into space than Richard Branson's Unity rocket plane, which went around 53 miles above sea level. Bezos also did the trip in less than 15 minutes, while Unity took 90 minutes. 

According to NASA, both heights above sea level are considered "space", with the space agency stating that professional, military, and commercial astronauts who travel above an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) are awarded astronaut wings.

The two billionaires' space companies have clearly taken a very different approach to getting into space. Blue Origin's New Shepard is more akin to a traditional-looking rocket that shoots up vertically, while Virgin Galactic is carried up on a plane before boosting itself further. 

Did Jeff Bezos make the trip alone?

No. Bezos was joined by:

  • His brother, Mark Bezos
  • Wally Funk, an 82-year-old woman who passed NASA's astronaut training program in the 1960s and is one of the original Mercury 13
  • Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old son of Joes Daemen, CEO of Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners who paid $28 million for the seat in a Blue Origin auction
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A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos)

How to watch Jeff Bezos go into space

Blue Origin hosted a YouTube livestream starting at 7:30am ET on Tuesday 20 July 2021. You can watch the re-play video above. It's also posted to the Blue Origin website. Be sure to check Bezos' Instagram, too, where he has shared several launch videos of him and his crew.

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Writing by Maggie Tillman and Stuart Miles.