Blue Origin's first crewed launch breaks four Guinness World Records

July 20, 2021, Blue Origin's first-ever crewed spaceflight broke a number of records.
July 20, 2021, Blue Origin's first-ever crewed spaceflight broke a number of records. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin broke multiple Guinness World Records with its first crewed spaceflight in July. 

The historic event launched Blue Origin's founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos and three other civilians: Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen on a suborbital flight aboard the company's New Shepard rocket. 

The Blue Origin flight set a multitude of new records including launching the oldest person to fly to space, the first siblings in space at the same time, the youngest person to go to space and the first suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers, according to a statement from the Guinness World Records, announcing the four new records on Oct. 1. 

New Shepard, Blue Origin’s fully reusable suborbital spacecraft (which is named after NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space), lifted off from the company’s Launch Site One, near Van Horn, Texas, on July 20 at 9:11 a.m. EDT (1311 GMT, 8:11 a.m. local time). The flight, which lasted a little over 10 minutes total, took the four passengers past the Kármán Line — an internationally recognized boundary of space.

Related: Jeff Bezos launches into space on Blue Origin's 1st astronaut flight

Funk, who was one of the later-dubbed "Mercury 13," a now-famous group of 13 women who completed astronaut medical training as NASA's Mercury 7 completed their official training, set the new record for the oldest person in space. At age 82, Funk broke the record previously held by NASA astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 when he flew to space in October 1998 as part of NASA's STS-95 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. This recent Blue Origin flight also marks a personal record for Funk, having finally achieved her lifelong goal of flying to space for the first time.

As a pioneering aviator, Funk also holds other records, including the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (a United States Army base) and the first female Federal Aviation Agency inspector, according to the statement. 

The Blue Origin flight crew also included the youngest person to ever go to space, Oliver Daemen, who was 18 at the time. Daemen was also the first paying customer to fly on a suborbital spacecraft. 

Blue Origin auctioned off the fourth seat to an anonymous bidder who paid $28 million for the opportunity. However, they had a scheduling conflict and so Daemen, who secured a ticket in the auction for the second New Shepard crewed flight, flew in their place (the anonymous bidder will be part of a future launch). Daemen's ticket was paid for by his father, Joes Daemen, who is the CEO of a Dutch private equity firm, Somerset Capital Partners. Daemen, who is currently studying physics and innovation at the University of Utrecht, described the experience as "life-changing," according to the statement. 

Another record set with this flight was the first siblings to go to space together, as Jeff and his younger brother, Mark, flew on the suborbital spacecraft at the same time. 

"Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend," Jeff wrote on Instagram before the flight. 

Blue Origin is targeting Oct. 12 for its second crewed suborbital flight and has named three of the four crewmembers: Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Earth observation company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, vice chair for life sciences and healthcare at French software company Dassault Systèmes. The flight will also carry actor William Shatner on this second flight, and this will set another record as Shatner is 90 years old and will set a new record for the oldest person to fly to space. 

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.