In photos: Blue Origin's 1st New Shepard passenger launch with Jeff Bezos
Blue Origin made history on July 20, 2021 with the launch of its New Shepard rocket on its first crewed spaceflight.
The launch, which lifted off from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn, carried the company's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos (of Amazon fame), his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen of the Netherlands, the first paying passenger on New Shepard.
See photos from Blue Origin's historic spaceflight here and relive the company's milestone for private spaceflight.
Related: Blue Origin's launch with Jeff Bezos: Everything you need to know
The Blue Origin crew (in blue flight suits) on its final walkout before entering a vehicle that drove them to the launch pad near Van Horn, Texas. From left: Venture capitalist Mark Bezos, Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (brother of Mark), Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
The Blue Origin crew prepares for their liftoff. Pictured in the window is 82-year-old Wally Funk, who had wanted to go to space for six decades before this opportunity arose.
New Shepard successfully lifts off with the first crew on board. Two future astronaut flights for the company are expected to take place in 2021, although per-seat pricing has not yet been announced.
New Shepard soars into the sky nearby Van Horn, Texas.
A view looking down at the New Shepard rocket and the Earth below at 2 minutes and 23 seconds after launch, shortly before capsule separation.
Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk (foreground) was first up the launch tower ahead of her crewmates, who remarked on her youthful energy. Just behind her is 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, a fellow crew member and physics student.
An interior view of the first New Shepard crew during the weightless phase of their flight. From left: physics student Oliver Daemen, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, Amazon and Mark Bezos (with ball), brother of Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, whose arm is visible at far right.
The New Shepard crew floats in weightlessness during the first crewed flight of the system.
Mark Bezos, brother to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, gives a thumbs-up while waiting to exit the New Shepard spacecraft after its first flight.
Wally Funk, 82, is a Mercury 13 aviator who is the oldest person to reach space.
Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos smiles after leaving the RSS First Step on the first suborbital flight. Bezos used his profits from founding Amazon to create Blue Origin in 2000, achieving a spaceflight 21 years later.
Oliver Daemen, 18, is the youngest person ever to fly into space. His father Joes, a hedge fund manager, funded his passage aboard New Shepard.
The first Blue Origin crew displays a flag in front of the capsule that carried them to space. From left: physics student Oliver Daemen, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, venture capitalist Mark Bezos (brother of Mark) and Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos pops celebratory champagne to celebrate the first crewed mission of the New Shepard system.
The New Shepard rocket is designed to land after flight, for reuse on future missions.
The core stage of the New Shepard rocket makes a flawless touchdown at Launch Site One at 7 minutes and 40 seconds after launch.
The nearly 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket sits on Launch Pad One, backdropped by mountains near Van Horn, Texas.
Blue Origin personnel surround the New Shepard rocket.
The Blue Origin crew stroll by the New Shepard rocket. From left: physics student Oliver Daemen, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, Amazon and Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, and venture capitalist Mark Bezos (brother of Jeff.)
Billionaire Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos (left) invited his younger brother Mark (right) on the first spaceflight. The Bezos brothers say they always have been close and that Mark aspired to follow in Jeff's footsteps on many other adventures before this one.
Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk (right) stands at the post-flight press conference that in part talked about the 82-year-old's successful six-decade-long quest to be an astronaut. From left, the other crew members flying with her were physics student Oliver Daemen, venture capitalist Mark Bezos and Blue Origin and Amazon billionaire founder Jeff Bezos (brother of Mark).
Crew member Jeff Bezos (left) receives his Blue Origin-branded astronaut pin. The definition of "astronaut" for space tourism is controversial and may be revised by the Federal Aviation Administration as the tourism industry expands.
Wally Funk (left), 82, receives her Blue Origin-branded astronaut wings. Funk was a member of the Mercury 13 group of pilot aviators who tried to enter the NASA human spaceflight program in the 1960s, when it was closed to women.
The first New Shepard crew poses in front of the rocket that took them to suborbital space. From left, physics student Oliver Daemen, Blue Origin and Amazon billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, venture capitalist Mark Bezos (brother of Jeff), and Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk. At right is an unidentified Blue Origin official.
The Blue Origin "astronaut pin" that all crew members receive after flight, next to the patch for the first New Shepard mission.
In the stark desert morning of West Texas, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket stands atop Launch Site One awaiting its first crew. The launch site is near the town of Van Horn, Texas.
While the First Human Flight was the 16th flight of a New Shepard rocket, it was the third spaceflight for this particular New Shepard, which Blue Origin has earmarked for crewed spaceflights. A second New Shepard that has flown more often will be used for uncrewed payload flights.
New Shepard is named for NASA Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space. It is 60 feet (18 meters) tall, can carry six passengers and uses a single BE-3 engine to launch its capsule on suborbital flights.
The Blue Origin crew included (from left) physics student Oliver Daemen, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, Amazon and Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, and Bezos' brother Mark, a venture capitalist who has a background in advertising.
The patch for the first crewed Blue Origin mission shows the New Shepard rocket blasting into space along with two booster rockets. The core stage was reusable and touched down safely in the Texas desert minutes after liftoff.
The New Shepard rocket poised on its launch pad near Van Horn, Texas before sending the first Blue Origin crew into space.
The Blue Origin crew (in blue flight suits) climbs the launch tower to the New Shepard rocket, flanked by company officials. From left, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, venture capitalist Mark Bezos (brother of Jeff) and physics student Oliver Daemen.
Blue Origin officials close the hatch to the RSS First Step, the capsule riding aboard the New Shepard rocket.
The New Shepard rocket poised before its 16th overall launch, minutes before sending its first crew to suborbital space.
Liftoff of the New Shepard rocket took place a few minutes late after an unscheduled hold in the countdown, which was not explained during the broadcast.
The New Shepard rocket at 10 seconds after liftoff, with its exhaust spewing dust into the Texan desert surrounding Launch Site One.
All systems were reported "nominal" for New Shepard at 16 seconds after launch. In the background you can see some of the Blue Origin facilities and roads near Launch Site One.
New Shepard and its launch tower are lit up before the first crewed spaceflight.
The capsule portion of the New Shepard system floats towards Earth underneath three parachutes, carrying four crew members who flew to suborbital space.
The New Shepard capsule touches down in the Texan desert. Despite the dust cloud, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk later told reporters she could barely feel the landing, as it was cushioned by small rockets.
The New Shepard spacecraft moments after touchdown in the Texan desert, surrounded by three parachutes (in blue).
Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the capsule as Blue Origin officials arrive, shortly after landing.
A view of the interior of the Blue Origin spacecraft, which allows about one crew member at a time to do a somersault during the weightless phase.
The seats, along with the rest of the spacecraft, have been certified to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards before flight. Crew members receive about 14 hours of training in two days.
A view of the press room for Blue Origin's first crewed New Shepard flight inside a hangar at Launch Site One in West Texas.
The New Shepard flight profile includes the launch, the separation of the capsule from the rocket, and landing of both the capsule and the spacecraft.
Blue Origin's New Shepard system (pictured) is vying for a market of rich customers able to pay their way into space, along with recruiting companies that will fly payloads for commercial or scientific purposes.