Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin crew return as astronauts after historic launch

CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" team watches Blue Origin land its booster and Jeff Bezos and his crew float back down to Earth's surface in their capsule. The crew for Tuesday's flightis Bezos, who founded Blue Origin and retail giant Amazon, his brother, Mark, aerospace pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daeman. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi

For 10 minutes and 10 seconds on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos wasn’t the richest man on Earth.

His Blue Origin company launched him into spaceflight history on Tuesday. Its first crewed New Shepard rocket blasted off from the Texas desert for the brief flight, also carrying his brother and the oldest and youngest people to ever have flown in space.

“Best day ever!” Bezos said after touchdown.

The capsule carrying the Blue Origin crew accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound before it reached beyond the 80 kilometer boundary (about 262,000 feet) the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The crew capsule reached an altitude of 107 kilometers (351,210 feet), and the rocket hit a top speed of 2,233 mph during the launch.

The crew floated in microgravity for a couple minutes, before the capsule returned and landed under a set of parachutes to end the mission after 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

The launch marked Blue Origin’s entrance into the market of private spaceflight, joining Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — its direct competitor in the sector of suborbital tourism — and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

“This is a tiny little step of what Blue Origin is going to do,” Bezos told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan after he touched down. “What we’re really trying to do is build reusable space vehicles. It’s the only way to build a road to space, and we need to build a road to space so that our children can build the future.”

Branson congratulated Bezos after the mission.

“Well done,” Branson tweeted. “Impressive! Very best to all the crew from me and all the team at @virgingalactic”

In addition to his singular net worth, Bezos, 57, is also the only space founder to ride the first crewed flight of his company. While SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have launched astronauts before, Bezos is the first to put himself on the inaugural crew flight.

Also on the flight were Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, 18 — respectively the oldest and youngest humans to ever fly in space — and Bezos’ brother, Mark, 53.

Bezos invited his brother and Funk, a female aerospace pioneer, to join the flight. Daemen was a late addition. His seat was originally part of a public auction, but the auction’s winner, an anonymous person who bid $28 million to fly with Bezos, was unable to make the July 20 launch date. Daemen’s father, Joes, CEO of a private equity firm in the Netherlands, was also a bidder, with Daemen scheduled to fly on Blue Origin’s second crew launch as a paying passenger. When the mystery bidder backed out, the company moved Daemen up to the first launch.

Tuesday’s launch also came on another historic milestone — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

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