News & Politics

11 Memorable Moments From Bezos’ 10-Minute Visit to Space

Bezos made it to space. It was quick, but it happened.

Photograph courtesy Blue Origin.

Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, launched its first vehicle loaded with four human passengers to space this morning. The Amazon founder and world’s richest man, accompanied by his brother, Mark Bezos, 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen, and pilot Wally Funk, rose over 62 miles above West Texas in the rocket named New Shepard and descended safely to Earth. The whole flight lasted under 11 minutes. Here were the highlights: 

The cowboy hat. Bezos topped off his black and blue space suit (NASCAR, anyone?) with a cowboy hat and boots (or maybe the rodeo?). The hat was on when he stepped out of his car around 8:30 AM to ascend the launch platform and when he exited the spacecraft after the trip. Bezos was still wearing the hat during the post-launch press conference.  

The shape of the vessel. To kill time, Blue Origin’s live feed highlighted different angles of the booster and rocket, some parts steaming. Is it just us, or does the vessel remind you of a certain Austin Powers scene…? Some people commented on Twitter. 

They brought three historical treasures on their flight. The crew brought Amelia Earhart’s aviator goggles from her solo trip across the Atlantic, a piece of canvas from the Wright Brothers’ plane, the Wright Flyer, and a bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon flight in 1783. All items were borrowed from The Explorers Club.

“I like to think that if Amelia were here, she’d be very, very proud of Wally,” Bezos said during the conference. Today, Wally became the oldest person to travel to space (and Daemen became the youngest).

They floated, cheered, and ate skittles for four minutes. Bezos and his companions floated around the spacecraft in free fall for four minutes, cheering. They passed orange ping pong balls around the spacecraft. They even tossed and caught skittles in their mouths.  

A secret message was revealed. Before boarding the flight, the Bezos brothers wrote something on their hands. The message was revealed during the flight: “HI MOM.”

After 10 minutes and 10 seconds after launch, it was over. Yep, it pretty much takes more time to order a pizza than it takes to fly to space and back.

Bezos’ aggressive thumbs up. Before exiting the spacecraft, crew outside of the vessel looked for signals from the passengers. Bezos really, really likes to give thumbs up. Like, a lot. 

Bezos wasted no time to pop the bubbly. After exiting the spacecraft, the new astronauts were greeted by camera crews and a welcome-back crowd (so many cowboy hats). Bezos, his brother, and Daemen, started spraying champagne everywhere. Funk stayed back and watched. Are those champagne stains on Bezos’ hat?

The hats were multiplying. Two more hats surfaced from the crowd and were given to Mark Bezos and Daemen before they popped the bottles. Finally, they were ready to celebrate. Where’s the freeze-dried space ice cream?

Bezos gave his mom a gift from space. He wore a feather necklace into space and gifted it to his mom during the press conference.

Someone paid $28 million and didn’t even go on the flight. Before the flight, Blue Origin auctioned off one of New Shepard’s seats for $28 million. The winner couldn’t make it today due to a scheduling conflict (but will attend a future trip). $28 million for an 11 minute joyride (to space, nonetheless. But still.) Daemen, one of the auction’s runners-up, got the seat instead, joining the flight as Blue Origins first paying customer. Who paid for the other travelers? Amazon. “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” Bezos said in the post-flight press conference.

Editorial Fellow

Anne Tate, originally from Annapolis, MD, joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied journalism and psychology.