The first Blue Origin spacecraft launched into space and returned today (July 20) and loved it so much that some are already planning their return flights.
This morning at 9:11 am ET (13.11 GMT, 8:11 am local time), Blue Origin’s New Shepard launched its first manned mission from One’s launch site in West Texas. On board were the founder of the company Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, pioneer pilot Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daman.
And judging by what they said after landing, the newly minted astronauts enjoyed the trip immensely.
“I loved every minute of it,” Funk said at a post-launch press conference.
Connected: Jeff Bezos launches Blue Origin astronaut into space
“Is that all you thought?”
Thanks to the onboard microphones in the New Shepard capsule, we were able to experience the crew’s experience even before they returned home from their flight, which lasted a total of just over 10 minutes.
While snippets of sound were heard after they reached space – the flight took place over the Karman Line, the boundary of space 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth’s surface – the most obvious sounds on board were joyful “ooh ooh!” , “Wow!” and the shouts of the crew “This is incredible.”
As the new astronauts soared without gravity, a male voice asked, “Is that all you thought?” as Funk exclaimed, “Fantastic!” and the carriage looked out the window.
However, after landing on planet Earth, the crew had many more thoughts to share, and there weren’t necessarily many words for that.
Jeff Bezos began his talk by thanking the Blue Origin team in Van Horn, where the company built its launch pad in West Texas, and the workers and supporters of his Amazon company.
“It’s a big team,” Bezos said of the Blue Origin teams behind the mission. “They’ve been working on this for many years and they’ve done an outstanding job.”
When asked how his first flight into space felt? “Oh my God!” Bezos exclaimed. “My expectations were high and they were vastly exceeded.
“Zero G can be one of the biggest surprises,” he added of the flight, “because it’s so normal. It felt like humans had evolved to live in this environment, which I know is impossible, but it was so serene and peaceful, floating. “
“The most important thing for me was that I looked at the Earth and looked at its atmosphere,” he added. “This is a very important moment to acknowledge it intellectually, but to see with your own eyes how fragile he is. [Earth’s atmosphere] actually.”
“Everyone who has been in space says it changes them,” Bezos added that he saw the Earth from space.
Jubilant Funk, who flew 60 years after passing tests designed to determine flight fitness but saw that NASA had decided to reject the idea of women flying as astronauts, said, “Woo! to the crowd at a press conference.
“We had a great time, it was great,” Funk said, “I want to go again, fast!”
“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “I just wish it were longer … not enough for all of us,” to do rolls and turns.
Funk reinforced her desire to return to space, saying: “I loved it, I can’t wait to hit the road again.”
According to Jeff Bezos, Funk not only defeated the rest of the crew by climbing the tower for crew access to the spacecraft this morning, but “once again, in training, surpassed the humans,” Bezos said.
Daman and Mark Bezos also shared their absolute joy in the experience.
“It was a little more emotional than I thought,” Damen, a Dutch teenager who was the company’s first paying passenger, said during the briefing.
“We are one of the first, and we will hope that many more, many more people will join us, because this experience we have to share with more and more people,” added Damen.
“I was surprised,” said Mark Bezos of his experience. “I mean, they told us what kind of overload it would feel on the way up … it was incredibly exciting.”
Mark Bezos added that his family was “extremely supportive of all of this,” and his brother Jeff jokingly called him “the funniest person ever to be in space” (Space.com cannot confirm).
Connected: Blue Origin Launch With Jeff Bezos: Everything You Need To Know
Looking to the future
Today’s fun flight for Blue Origin is just the beginning of such crewed suborbital flights.
Last week, Sunday (July 11), Virgin Galactic also launched a crewed suborbital flight. During their flight, founder Richard Branson, along with mission specialists Sirisha Bundla, Colin Bennett and Beth Moses, ascended 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface aboard the Unity spacecraft and returned safely to Earth.
Following the success of this mission and today’s Blue Origin mission, we look to a future that includes more crewed suborbital flights, some of which are already planned.
“We are already approaching $ 100 million in private sales and the demand is very, very high,” Bezos said during a press conference.
However, while the company is planning two more New Shepard flights with crew for the remainder of this year and hopes the vehicle can be reused for 25 or even 100 flights, Bezos declined to comment on plans beyond this year.
“We really want to practice with this vehicle, we will need to increase torque,” Bezos said, “to fly more often, and we’re going to do that and work on all the operational stuff. we need to do … practice allows you to get better, and we want to be able to [do that] right now.”
Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@ or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.