VAN HORN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket blasted off from Van Horn, Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, his brother and the oldest and youngest travelers into space all relished the 10+ minute out-of-this-world adventure.
There had been more than a dozen unmanned test flights, but today's launch of Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft was the first to carry passengers. The recycled rocket and capsule that carried the crew on Tuesday was the same ones used on the last two test flights.
Seconds before the rocket blasted into space the message from mission control was, "It's time for Blue Origin's first human flight. Godspeed first crew of New Shephard. Let's light this candle!"
After liftoff from the launch site in Van Horn, Texas the rocket climbed up some 66 miles miles above the Earth. It took 110,000 pounds of thrust to propel the rocket through Earth's atmosphere. The crew on board experienced pressure 3x's the force of Earth's gravity.
It was when the capsule separated from the main engine that Jeff Bezos, 57, his brother Mark, 53, and crewmates, aviation pioneer from Texas 82-year-oldabout three minutes of weightlessness and took in views of the blue marble out of the largest windows ever built into a space capsule.
The crew cheered as they floated around the capsule. Funk, one of the "Mercury 13" who was deemed 'not fit' for spaceflight because she was a woman, could be heard saying, "It's dark up here, oh my word."
After the capsule carrying the passengers reached apogee -- the highest point in the flight -- and the unit speed slowed to zero miles an hour, the controlled descent began. New Shephard reached Earth before the capsule. Parachutes brought the speed of the capsule down to 16 mph and seconds before landing retrograde rockets kicked on and made for a cushy landing for the crew.
Once on the ground, while still strapped in, Jeff Bezos declared it "the best day ever".
After all returned to Earth safely, Blue Origin tweeted, "Congratulations to all of Team Blue past and present on reaching this historic moment in spaceflight history. This first astronaut crew wrote themselves into the history books of space, opening the door through which many after will pass."
Minutes after touchdown members of the Blue Origin recovery crew converged on the capsule, opened the hatch, and help the New Shepard team exit. Minus the traditional flight suits, all four emerged joyously.
for more features.