Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has blasted off on a flight to the edge of space.
The billionaire strapped into Blue Origin’s sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas, on Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Alongside him were his brother Mark, female astronaut Wally Funk who trained in 1961 but never went to space, as well as the company’s first customer, Dutch 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
The Blue Origin founder is the second billionaire to ride his own rocket, achieving the feat just days after Sir Richard Branson flew into space on Virgin Galactic, describing the experience as “more extreme than I’d have ever imagined”.
Mr Bezos is aiming to reach an altitude of roughly 66 miles (106 kilometres), more than 10 miles (16 kilometres) higher than Sir Richard’s ride on July 11.
The trip is the 16th lift-off made by New Shepard, and its first to carry human passengers.
Because the capsule is fully automated, there is no need for trained staff on the quick up-and-down flight, expected to last just 10 minutes.
As well as an opportunity to take in breath-taking views of Earth, the group will be able to get out of their seats and float around the cabin for about four minutes.
“Jeff, this is something you’ve dreamed of your whole life and your passion for space is infectious,” a message from Jeff Bezos’s sister Christina read moments before lift-off.
“Now hurry up and get your asses back down here so I can give you a huge hug, we love you, and godspeed New Shepard.”
Dressed in a blue flight suit and cowboy hat, Bezos rode to the launch pad with his fellow passengers, waving to a cheering crowd that had gathered along the road.
The billionaire’s parents and other family members were also on site for the launch.