The company’s flight that carried Jeff Bezos into space set a number of world records during the period when it was being investigated for ignoring safety concerns to gain an advantage in the race for space. The Guinness Book of Records has recognized the company’s first crewed flight months after it landed successfully.
Jeff Bezos was carried into space during Blue Origin’s flight, which broke four world records and helped strengthen the nascent industry of space tourism, which remains a luxury reserved for millionaires and billionaires. It took the New Shephard spacecraft three minutes to carry four passengers above the Karmen line (100 kilometers above the Earth) before they were returned to Earth.
“Best day ever, it was incredible,” said Jeff Bezos after landing back on Earth and becoming the 571st astronaut to soar into space.
This was a record-setting flight
As the flight soared into the sky, it set four world records, including the oldest person to go into space, youngest person to go into space, first siblings to go into space, and first pay-for-use spacecraft.
A longtime aviator, Wally Funk, 82, realized a lifelong dream due to inequity in the early space era, becoming the oldest astronaut to date. When the Mercury program was scrapped in the 1960s, she had passed every test required to become an astronaut. She has logged over 16,000 hours of flying time and has flown almost every type of aircraft from fighters to trainers. For the National Transportation Safety Board, she was the first woman to serve as an investigator, and in several flight schools, she served as the chief pilot.
Youngest astronaut, Oliver Daeman, made history when he became the youngest person to go into space at the age of 19. After bidding in an auction to hold the fourth seat, he won the deal by paying $28 million, earning him the opportunity to fly with Bezos. A private equity firm’s CEO father financed Daemen’s ticket. As a result, Daemen was the first paying customer of the company.
During the flight, Jeff Bezos’ brother Mark was with him, making him one of the first brothers to go into space together. In a year-long study, NASA investigated what happened to twin brothers when astronaut Mark Kelly went to space while his brother remained on Earth and observed his behavior.
On October 12, there will be a flight
The agency plans to conduct two more crew flights by the end of this year as tickets go on sale following the successful demonstration of the New Shepard’s ability to transport tourists into space and safely return them back to Earth. The company has said, “We have built this system to go on forever, so hundreds and thousands of astronauts can go into space.”
As of recent announcements, Blue Origin’s next crewed launch will be on October 12, carrying four astronauts beyond Earth and bringing them back. NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and former Nasa engineer Glen de Vries, co-founder of Dassault Systèmes and vice-chairman of Life Sciences & Healthcare, have already been announced.
The liftoff is being targeted for 8.30 am CDT, 7.00 pm Indian Standard Time.
Blue Origin employees raised safety concerns about Jeff Bezos’ space company to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to Alexandra Abrams, who served as head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, and 20 other unnamed employees and former employees of the company, “decision-making at Blue Origin is often based on cost reduction and execution speed over quality assurance.”
Bezos “started becoming impatient and (SpaceX’s) Elon (Musk) and Branson were getting ahead,” Abrams told CBS News. “And then we started to feel this increasing pressure and impatience that would definitely filter down from leadership.”
An essay by Blue Origin said a 2018 team “documented more than 1,000 problem reports relating to the engines powering the rockets, which had never been taken care of.”