Jeff Bezos thanked Amazon employees and customers saying “you guys paid for all this” after he blasted to the edge of space on the first crewed flight of his rocket ship New Shepard.

The billionaire blasted off on Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket from Texas shortly after 2 pm on Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Alongside him was his brother Mark, octogenarian astronaut Wally Funk – who trained in 1961 but never went to space – and the company’s first customer, Dutch 18-year-old Oliver Daemen. Ms Funk and Mr Daemen are the oldest and youngest people to fly into space, respectively. The flight lasted around 11 minutes from launch to capsule landing.

Upon arriving back to Earth, Mr Bezos speaking at a press conference thanked engineers and people who built and operated the rocket, before turning to Amazon staff and customers. He said:

“I also, I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer ’cause you guys paid for all this. So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every Amazon employee, thank you very much. It’s very appreciated.”

Astronauts experienced three to four minutes of zero-gravity and travelled above the Karman Line, which is considered to be the boundary of space. After the launch, the crew could be heard cheering and shouting “woohoo”. The booster that blasted the group of four into space before separating successfully landed back on Earth shortly after lift-off. Shortly after the soft landing, a voice that appeared to be that of Jeff Bezos could be heard saying: “Best day ever.” When asked by mission control how he was, his brother Mark said: “I am unbelievably good.”

Mr Bezos hugged his parents Jackie and Mike as he exited the cabin. Ms Funk thanked the Amazon founder for inviting her aboard New Shepard after she trained in 1961 but never went to space. Blue Origin said it plans to launch two more flights in 2021, with ticket sales now open. Speaking ahead of their flight, the team said they were “ready” for their spaceflight, which is due to take off at 2 pm UK time. He said:

“I know it’s going to change me and I’m excited to find out how. 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.”

The trip was the 16th lift-off made by New Shepard and its first to carry human passengers. This Morning earlier on Monday, Mr Bezos said:

“I’m not really nervous, I’m excited, I’m curious. This vehicle’s ready, this crew’s ready, this team is amazing, we just feel really good about it.”

The journey will follow Sir Richard Branson’s recent successful Virgin Galactic voyage on July 11, an experience he described as “more extreme than I’d have ever imagined”. The Virgin Group founder congratulated Mr Bezos in a tweet, saying: “Well done @blueorigin, @jeffbezos, Mark, Wally and Oliver. Impressive! Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic.”

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