Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, has broken four Guinness World Records titles with their successful first human flight to space that took place on 20 July 2021.
The mission took off from the company’s Launch Site One, near Van Horn, Texas, USA with four astronauts on board New Shepard, Blue Origin’s fully reusable suborbital spacecraft. The rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
The astronauts on board were Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Blue Origin’s first customer, then 18-year-old Oliver Daemen. The 11-minute journey took them past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.
The records broken on this landmark spaceflight were:
Oldest person in space
Wally Funk (USA, b. February 1, 1939) was 82 years 169 days old on the day of the flight.
Wally is an American aviator who was one of the 13 females to take part in the "Mercury 13" program, a privately-funded initiative that would subject a group of 25 women pilots to the same gruelling physical and mental tests that the "Mercury 7" group of male astronauts went through. Wally was one of the 13 women that passed these tests, scoring higher than the male candidates in several areas.
Wally was determined to carve a path for herself in the exclusively male aviation industry. Her historic achievements include:
- First female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board
- First female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (a United States Army base)
- First female Federal Aviation Agency inspector
Wally, a trailblazer for female aviators everywhere, finally was able to achieve her lifelong goal of flying into space for the first time at the age of 82.
With the flight, Funk surpassed a record set in 1998 by the late Mercury 7 astronaut John Glenn, who joined the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-95 at 77 years of age.
First siblings in space at the same time
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark (both USA) are the first siblings to go to space together.
He wrote on Instagram before the flight: "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."
Youngest person to go to space
Oliver Daemen (Netherlands) is the youngest person to go to space at the age of just 18 years 334 days.
He was the first customer on a Blue Origin flight. Oliver, who has been interested in aviation and spaceflight since he was very young, said the experience was "life-changing".
He currently attends the University of Utrecht studying study physics and innovation.
First suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers
With Oliver on board, New Shepard became the first suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers.
Designed to take astronauts and research payloads on an 11-minute journey to space at an altitude of 100 km or 62 miles, New Shepard first flew in April 2015.
As of August 2021, New Shepard has completed:
- 17 successful consecutive launches
- 16 consecutive successful booster landings
- 3 successful capsule escape tests
- 18 consecutive successful crew capsule landings (including a pad escape test in 2012)