Jeff Bezos and three fellow passengers have made a pioneering journey into space.
The trip saw the space tourists take a brief trip off the Earth before coming back down again.
Mr Bezos has promoted the trip as a breakthrough moment for space tourism, which arguably represents the first time that paying, civilian passengers have been sent to space on board a private rocket. It is also the first time that humans have ever ridden on board a spacecraft made by the Amazon founder’s private space company, Blue Origin.
But at the same time, the trip has been criticised by many as an indulgence, with the billionaire spending money and other resources that could be better used to improve life on Earth.
- Oliver Daemen: The millionaire’s son, 18, going to space with Jeff Bezos
- Blue Origin launch: What time does Jeff Bezos and crew go to space and how can you watch?
- Jeff Bezos flight crew: Who will be on Blue Origin rocket and how much is the launch costing?
- Watch live as Jeff Bezos launches himself into space
Hello and welcome...
... to The Independent’s live blog of Jeff Bezos and his crew’s trip to space.
Jeff Bezos says critics are ‘largely right'
The Amazon founder has responded to critics who argue there are bigger problems on Earth that he should be tending to – and agreed with them.
Blue Origin launch: What time does Jeff Bezos and crew go to space and how can you watch?
Who will be on Blue Origin rocket and how much is the launch costing?
Bezos says he is ‘ready, not nervous'
From Press Association:
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has said he is “ready”, not nervous, for his flight to the edge of space on Tuesday.
The billionaire is set to blast off on Blue Origin’s sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas, with his brother Mark, female astronaut Wally Funk who trained in 1961 but never went to space, as well as the company’s first customer, Dutch 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
Speaking to the press on Monday, the quartet said they were excited for their spaceflight, which is due to take off at 2pm UK time.
“I know it’s going to change me and I’m excited to find out how,” Mr Bezos told CNN.
“We really believe this flight is safe - I had friends say to me, ‘How about the second flight or the third flight, why do you have to go on the first flight?’ and the point is that we know the vehicle’s safe.
“If the vehicle is not safe for me, it’s not safe for anyone. We have never raced. We have taken this one step at a time, we’re ready.”
‘Jeff Bezos is sending us all a frightening message with his colonial space flight'
Musk upstages Bezos with huge Starship test
Just hours before Jeff Bezos launches, Elon Musk and SpaceX have threatened to upstage him with a big launch of their own.
The company did a static fire test of its Starlink Heavy Booster, which is a big step towards getting the spacecraft into operation. It is the first test of its kind – and though no humans were involved and it didn’t even leave the ground, it’s arguably as important for space travel as Bezos’s trip.
Musk seems excited, if that exclamation mark is anything to go by:
(After today is over, Musk will be notable for being the only one of the trio of space-faring billionaires who has not ridden his own rocket . He doesn’t have any public plans to ride on a SpaceX craft, though he is reported to have a ticket for Virgin Galactic. SpaceX will also begin commercial civilian flights with the Inspiration4 mission later this year.)
Bezos and his crew prepare for first flight
Here, from the Associated Press, is how everything looks this morning:
Jeff Bezos is about to soar on his space travel company's first flight with people on board.
The founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon on Tuesday will become the second billionaire to ride his own rocket. He'll launch from West Texas with his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas — the youngest and oldest to ever hurtle off the planet.
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is set to blast off with its eclectic group of passengers on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Bezos is aiming for an altitude of roughly 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Richard Branson's ride on July 11.
The capsule is fully automated, so there's no need for trained staff on the quick up-and-down flight, expected to last just 10 minutes. Branson's Virgin Galactic rocket plane needs two pilots to operate.
Bezos' dream-come-true trip follows 15 successful test flights to space by New Shepard rockets since 2015, all of them unoccupied. If successful, Blue Origin plans two more passenger flights by year's end.
The company has yet to open ticket sales to the public and is filling upcoming flights with those who took part in last month's $28 million charity auction for the fourth capsule seat. The mystery winner bowed out of Tuesday's launch because of a scheduling conflict. That opened up the slot for Oliver Daemen, a college-bound student from the Netherlands whose father was among the unsuccessful bidders.
Also flying: Bezos' younger brother Mark and Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same testing back in the early 1960s as NASA's Mercury astronauts, but failed to make the cut because they were women.
Not everyone in the remote, desert town of Van Horn was excited about the drama unfolding 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north.
“It's a luxury that's going to be set aside for the wealthy,” said pizza shop owner Jesus Ramirez. He planned to watch the morning launch from his restaurant's patio with a cup of coffee.
Virgin Galactic sends best wishes to team
Virgin Galactic – who famously scooped Bezos with its billionaire flight of Branson, although Blue Origin has actually argued it didn’t count as going to space – has sent its best wishes to the crew leaving today.
Musk tweets ‘best of luck’
... And Elon Musk has sent his good wishes, too.
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