Billionaire Jeff Bezos finally made his space dream a reality

The New Shepard rocket blasts off into space from West Texas. Picture: Blue Origin
The New Shepard rocket blasts off into space from West Texas. Picture: Blue Origin

One of the world's richest men blasted off into space on a 10-minute flight overnight, declaring it the "best day ever!" on his return to earth.

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accompanied by his brother Mark, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old female aviation pioneer from Texas, blasted off in his rocket, New Shephard, around 11.12pm (AEST) from its West Texas launchpad.

Blue Origin's New Shepard, named after the first American in space, reached an altitude of about 106 kilometres, more than 16 kilometres higher than fellow billionaire and rival Richard Branson's July 11 ride.

Mr Bezos created Blue Origin in 2000 and claims to have sold $1 billion in Amazon stock every year to fund the project.

"I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this," Mr Bezos said afterwards.

Mr Bezos arrived back on earth to cheers from family and Blue Origin employees.

He aims to create a fleet of reuseable rockets to put more people in space. Two more crewed flights are planned this year.

Money raised from the auction for the first paid seat on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket will go to 19 charitable organizations, each offered a $1 million grant "to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space", the company said.

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Wally Funk's journey to space began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space program, a privately-funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness.

Thirteen American women successfully underwent the same physiological and psychological screening tests as the male astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury, but the women never flew to space.

This story Bezos blasts into space, 16kms higher than Branson first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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