Cover VAN HORN, TEXAS - JULY 20: Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos pose for a picture near the booster after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew were the first human spaceflight for the company. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos and crew have successfully launched. But what does this mean for us?

Blue Origin has successfully launched its first human flight on 20 July 2021 with its founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aviator Wally Funk and bid winner Oliver Daeman on board the New Shepard rocket.

How far has New Shepard gone?

The short flight lasted just over 10 minutes, including liftoff and landing.

The New Shepard rocket took off vertically, lifting off from Blue Origin's private Launch Site One in Texas around 9am ET (9pm PHT). The spacecraft passed the Kármán Line, the "imaginary boundary" that is internationally recognised as the boundary of space. Flying past this boundary has made the crew aboard the spacecraft officially astronauts.

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What was so historical about it?

82-year old Wally Funk, who was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, is now the first oldest person to reach space. It was also a memorable experience for Funk, who was a member of Mercury 13, a group of exemplary female pilots who were planning to travel to space, as NASA wouldn't accept the program at the time.

Oliver Daeman, who purchased a ticket to fly to space, became the first youngest person to travel to space. The unnamed auction winner chosen by Blue Origin was supposed to join the historical mission. However, due to conflicting schedules, their spot was taken by the 18-year-old Dutch student. 

The Bezos brothers also became the first siblings to fly in space together.

More importantly, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket became the first commercial vehicle under a suborbital reusable launch vehicle license to take paying customers to space and back.

Who flew the New Shepard?

The New Shepard rocket is fully autonomous, which means that the spacecraft cannot be operated from inside. It's the first fully automated flight—which means it was completely computer-flown.

What now?

The commercial spaceflight industry is alive and well with two successful missions from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. Space tourism will soon become available for those willing to purchase a ticket to fly to space. Blue Origin is planning on flying two more crewed flights this year to prepare for more flights in 2022.

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