Blue Origin astronaut says Jeff Bezos flight ‘didn’t go high enough’


Wally Funk had been trying to visit space for six decades before the Blue Origin flight (Picture: Getty)

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has had his first spaceflight criticised by fellow astronaut Wally Funk, 82, who said the capsule ‘didn’t go high enough’.

The Blue Origin flight, which has been mocked on Twitter for only just escaping the Earth’s atmosphere, was Bezos’ company’s first human flight.

Alongside Funk on Bezos’ $5.5 billion rocket was his younger brother Mark, 53, and teenager Oliver Daemen.

Bezos described the crewed flight, which launched on Tuesday, as ‘the best day ever’, but his crewmate Funk had some qualms.

In a post flight interview with Fox, she said she was disappointed not to see the curvature of the Earth while aboard the Blue Origin flight.

Funk, who spent six decades attempting to reach space as a a trained astronaut, said: ‘We went right on up and I saw darkness. I thought I was going to see the world, but we weren’t quite high enough.’

The octogenarian astronaut also said she would have loved to have spent longer in zero gravity to ‘do a lot more rolls and twists and so forth.’

‘I loved every minute of it,’ she said. ‘I just wish it had been longer.’

Crew member Wally Funk, 82, wishes the flight had gone higher (Picture: Getty)

Footage from the Blue Origin flight showed the four passengers amid a backdrop of the Earth’s atmosphere and black space, and a slight curve in the horizon.

The blistering 11-minute journey to space, orchestrated by Bezos, the world’s richest man, flew to 350,000ft (106km) on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

He was seen hugging his parents Jackie and Mike as he exited the cabin.

The rocket travelled more than 10 miles (16km) higher than Sir Richard Branson’s flight to space last week with Virgin Galactic. Yet, for Funk, the height wasn’t quite enough.

It’s not the first criticism that Bezos has received for his Blue Origin flight.

After the flight, in a clip that went viral, Bezos thanked Amazon customers for their service.

‘I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this,’ he said to the post-flight crowd.

‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.’

But many observers were unimpressed, arguing that the wealth that Bezos has amassed shouldn’t have been possible.

Bezos has accepted that his critics are ‘largely right’, and has committed to giving to $200 million to charities of CNN anchors Van Jones and Jose Andres’ choice.

Why did Jeff Bezos fly to space?

Jeff Bezos announced in June he would fly to space with his rocket company, Blue Origin, just before Sir Richard Branson announced he would be going to space with his own rocket company, Virgin Galactic.

In an announcement video, Bezos said that space flight was something he had wanted to do ‘all my life’.

A 1982 interview with the billionaire, when he was still at school, records him saying he wanted ‘to build space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit.’

Bezos reportedly told an Amazon employee some years later, in 1996, that he was ‘really interested in space exploration, but the truth is, it’s some number of years off’.

Jeff Bezos flew to space with his younger brother, Mark (Picture: Getty)

Still, Bezos pushed ahead with his space exploration vision, and founded Blue Origin in 2000, after watching and being inspired by the rocketry biopic October Sky.

However, it has only been in the past few years, as Elon Musk’s SpaceX grew and Bezos became less directly involved with Amazon, that Blue Origin became more active.

One reason for Sir Richard Branson flying to space was to show customers riding a Virgin Galactic flight is safe and to attract potential future customers.

While Blue Origin doesn’t have the commercial model that Virgin Galactic does, opting for satellite launches and customer payloads, the image of Bezos riding on his own company’s rockets will still be encouragement to investors thinking about putting money in the venture.

Blue Origin has also floated the idea of regular space tourism flights, like Branson’s company, which a Bezos-led test flight could help sell.


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