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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin completes second successful space mission

It was the second crewed mission launched by Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and provider of suborbital spaceflight services founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, that was successfully completed on Wednesday.

A Canadian actor, William Shatner, is in charge of the crew, and he is best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in the popular science fiction film series "Star Trek."

Audrey Powers, vice president of New Shepard Operations, Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs, a satellite imagery company, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions are also on the board of directors.

In that it made Shatner, 90, the oldest person to travel to space, he broke the previous record of 82-year-old Wally Funk, who had traveled to space on the New Shepard rocket mission (NS-18), which launched from Blue Origin's private spaceport in West Texas.

A top speed of 2,235mph (3,597kph) was reached by the rocket during the mission, which lasted for ten minutes and seventeen seconds, according to the company. The astronauts were in weightlessness for approximately four minutes total.

It took more than three times the speed of sound for the capsule of New Shepard to break through the United States' 80-kilometer (50-mile) space barrier in order to achieve success. Upon detaching from the rocket, the self-flying capsule safely landed near Blue Origin's West Texas facilities, where the crew was reunited with their equipment.

This trip comes on the heels of the first Blue Origin trip, which was led by founder Jeff Bezos, 82-year-old Wally Funk, and two others three months earlier.

Space travel, which has been dubbed the 'Billionaires Space Race' by critics, has risen in popularity significantly in recent years. As part of the successful test flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, and five other crew members became the world's first billionaire to reach space.

Commercial space travel is also being pursued by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, which was awarded a $9.4 million contract by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Additional funding of $26.5 million has been awarded to Blue Origin to develop lander design concepts, which will include component testing and evaluation for performance and safety, in addition to other projects.

Moving Forward

It is possible that these space voyages will result in reusable infrastructure that will lower the cost of space travel, allowing more people to travel into space and create "amazing things that will improve life on Earth," according to the Amazon CEO.

Blue Origin has already sold more than $100 million worth of tickets to aspiring space tourists through their website. Spaceflights on Virgin Galactic's commercial spacecraft for wealthy passengers are scheduled to begin in 2022, with seats on the spacecraft expected to cost more than $250,000.

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