The Amazon founder was joined by both the youngest and the oldest person to ever go to space, as well as his brother

By Rachel DeSantis
July 20, 2021 09:16 AM
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Jeff Bezos has made it to space.

Bezos, 57, alongside his brother and two other history-making companions, took to the skies Tuesday morning, blasting off in the New Shepard rocket at 8:12 a.m. local time from Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas.

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.

Joining Bezos and his brother Mark, 53, was a record-breaking group that includes both the oldest and the youngest person to ever fly in space: 82-year-old Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, respectively.

"You have a very happy crew up here, I want you to know," one of the crew members said as their capsule was descending back to earth.

"Best day ever," Bezos said after the capsule safely landed back in Texas.

jeff bezos
Blue Origin launch
| Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, announced his journey to space in early June, saying at the time that it had been a dream of his since he was 5 years old.

"I'm excited. People keep asking me if I'm nervous. I'm not really nervous. I'm excited. I'm curious. I want to know what we're going to learn," he told CBS This Morning on Monday. "We've been training. This vehicle's ready. This crew is ready. This team is amazing. We just feel really good about it."

Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, Oliver Daemen
Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen
| Credit: Blue Origin/UPI/Shutterstock

After selecting his brother and Funk to join him, Bezos left the fourth and final seat on the flight open for the winner of an auction, for which the proceeds would go to Club for the Future, Blue Origin's foundation that supports that encourages STEM careers "to help invent the future of life in space."

Though an anonymous bidder put down a $28 million winning bid, the person ultimately opted to fly on a future mission due to scheduling conflicts, and Daemen was selected in their place.

wally funk
Wally Funk
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

Daemen is a Dutch student who plans to attend the University of Utrecht in September to study physics and innovation management.

Funk, meanwhile, is a trailblazing aviator who's been waiting for a chance to head into orbit since the 1960s, when she was part of the Mercury 13, a group of women who tested to become astronauts.

"I got a hold of NASA four times. I said, 'I want to become an astronaut.' But nobody would take me," she said in a clip posted to Bezos' Instagram account earlier this month. "I didn't think that I would ever get to go up."

According to the official website, the New Shepard seats six astronauts, and since the ship is "fully autonomous," there is no pilot, and everyone is a passenger. The reusable vehicle takes 11-minute flights into space, "designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line — the internationally recognized boundary of space."

RELATED VIDEO: Billionaire Richard Branson Says Completing Lifelong Goal of Visiting Space Felt Like 'a Dream'

Bezos' flight comes just nine days after fellow billionaire Sir Richard Branson took his first trip to space aboard the VSS Unity spacecraft, Virgin Galactic's first fully crewed flight test.

Branson, 70, took off alongside five others from Sierra County, New Mexico on an hour-long journey to and from suborbital space on July 11.

"This morning when I got back up, I said to the kids just as we're coming back, 'I still think I might wake up tomorrow morning, and find it actually hasn't happened,'" Branson told PEOPLE shortly after his trip. "The first thing I sent my son was a note this morning, it said, 'It wasn't a dream.'"

Though Branson and Bezos have faced criticism from those who believe they should use their massive wealth to tackle issues greater than space, including economic inequality and climate change, Branson told Today last week that he hoped his space endeavors would help create jobs.

"I 100% agree that people who are in positions of wealth should spend most of their money, 90% or more of their money, trying to tackle these issues, but we should also create new industries that can create 800 engineers, and scientists who can create wonderful things that can make space accessible at a fraction of the environmental cost that it's been in the past," he said.