This morning, Jeff Bezos went on an 11-minute flight into space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
Andy Luten was on the scene in the small West Texas town of Van Horn, as close as spectators could get to the launch site.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as the rocket took flight, and many young space enthusiasts had come to witness the event.

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Early in the morning, before dawn, I pulled into the small West Texas town of Van Horn where the townspeople were about to be awoken by a boom. Two booms, actually.

Andy Luten.

In 2004, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased a 165,000-ace ranch north of Van Horn and turned it into the launch site for Blue Origin, his pet aerospace company designed to take the first commercial passengers into orbit.

Today Blue Origin launched its first customers into space on their New Shepard rocket, the crown jewel of the company’s space flight arsenal.

In a show of confidence in his product, Bezos volunteered to join its maiden voyage. He brought along three passengers: Mark Bezos, Jeff’s younger brother, Oliver Daemen, a Dutch 18-year-old son of a hedge fund millionaire, and famed female aviator Wally Funk, who would become the oldest person to fly into space.

I drove overnight from Dallas to watch it live this morning, 16 miles north in Van Horn in a restricted area sectioned off by the Texas Department of Transportation for the launch – the closest spectators could be to the rocket. I came because I wanted to witness cutting-edge science and see how it inspires future generations to become interested in accomplishing incredible things.

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At about 6:30 a.m. local time, I began staking out my place among the assembled media and general public, dodging the reporters touching-up their makeup before their live spots.

I set my camera up around 10 miles from the launch pad and took a quick test shot to ensure I could see the rocket. It was hazy, but I saw the New Shepard in the distance, 90 minutes from lift-off.

Satisfied with my composition, I wandered the crowd meeting people from all walks of life who shared one thing in common that morning: a love of space.

James Newton and his three sons drove seven hours throughout the night from a town just north of Austin, Texas arriving on site by 4 a.m. They were inspired by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight to space just nine days before and decided to make the long trip out west.

I spoke to a husband and wife who made the long drive from Houston. It was their first rocket launch. The wife had loyally drawn a Blue Origin sign that she affixed to the side of their SUV. She posed with another sign inscribed with her sentiments for Richard Branson, who beat Bezos into space by nine days.

As the minutes ticked down, the excitement built. I took one …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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