Amazon Billionaire Jeff Bezos Hugs Girlfriend Lauren Sanchez After He Safely Returns from Space

Jeff Bezos said the moment with family and friends "makes me realize how much I love you and how much I'm loved"

When Jeff Bezos landed safely back on earth following his first foray into space, he had a whole squad of cheerleaders ready to welcome him back home — and none were more excited than girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos, 57, touched back down in Texas after taking a 10-minute flight aboard the New Shepard rocket Tuesday morning, and there to help celebrate his return was a group of loved ones, including Sanchez, his mom Jacklyn, and his children.

Sanchez, 51, could be seen jumping up and down and cheering just before the capsule's door was opened and Bezos stepped back on earth alongside his brother Mark and fellow space travelers Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen.

When the Amazon founder emerged, he high-fived a crew member, then wrapped his mother, Jacklyn, in a hug and kissed her cheek.

Next up was Sanchez and his son, whom he greeted with a kiss and a big group hug. An excited Sanchez was seen kissing her billionaire beau, with whom she went public in January 2019, on the cheek multiple times as he pulled her close.

Lauren Sanchez, Jeff Bezos
(L-R) Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos. Prodip Guha/Getty

"Our family was happy to see us. That's a good sign," Bezos joked during the post-flight press conference. "I wasn't that nervous, but my family was somewhat anxious about this and so it was so sweet actually to get hugged by them after landing, especially my kids and Lauren and my mom and dad and really all of you guys. We have a bunch of close friends here too, it just makes me realize how much I love you and how much I'm loved."

After greeting Bezos, Sanchez also offered congratulations to Daemen, the youngest person to ever travel into space at 18 years old, and Funk, the oldest at 82 years old.

"You gotta get up there, sweetheart!" Funk told Sanchez as she pulled her in for a hug.

The mission was the first space flight with humans on board for Blue Origin, the aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight company the billionaire founded in 2000.

Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, Oliver Daemen
Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk. Blue Origin/UPI/Shutterstock

The billionaire space race has been heating up, as Sir Richard Branson flew to space via his Virgin Galactic service last week, while Elon Musk's SpaceX first sent NASA astronauts to space in 2020. As the launches make headlines, critics have questioned whether the billionaires should use their money not on pricey rockets and space vehicles but instead to address problems plaguing Earth — a topic Bezos addressed during an interview with CNN on Monday.

"Well, I say they're largely right. We have to do both," Bezos told CNN of the criticism 24 hours before his launch. "We have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We've always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both."

At the post-flight press conference, Bezos revealed that the crew had brought a special piece of memorabilia with them along for the ride: a pair of goggles worn by famed aviator Amelia Earhart as she flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

"Thank you Amelia, wherever you are," Bezos said. "We hope you're watching all of this."

jeff bezos
Blue Origin launch. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

He also announced a new philanthropic initiative called the Courage and Civility Award, for which recipients will win $100 million to be put toward charities and nonprofits of their choice.

Bezos said those who win the prize money will be "people who have demonstrated courage" and "leaders who aim high and pursue solutions with courage." The first two recipients are Chef José Andrés and political commentator Van Jones.

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