After a successful 10-minute suborbital flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, a press conference was held, where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos spoke with words of gratitude to everyone who helped prepare for the flight. All this would be typical and stereotyped, if not for one moment. Bezos recalled his employees and Amazon customers:
I want to thank every Amazon employee, every Amazon customer – you paid for it. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thanks to every Amazon customer and Amazon employee.
In the race of billionaires, Jeff Bezos lost to rival Richard Branson: he was nine days ahead of him and successfully completed a suborbital flight. In general, the attitude towards the richest person in the world on the Internet is peculiar. When the billionaire was just getting ready to fly, people were already signing petitionforbidding him to return.
If you read the English-language Twitter, then there was so much negative that the golden toilet bowl of the head of the traffic police of Stavropol was resting:
- The shape of the ship has been compared to a huge penis;
- The cowboy hat on Bezos’s head surprised too;
- The flight was considered insufficiently “space” – they say, 60 years ago, the old rockets of the USSR and the USA were raised to the same height;
- Tourism is too expensive and available only to a select few, so this is not tourism at all;
- Bezos was reminded of the difficult working conditions of employees: for example, with a 16-hour working day, only 5 minutes for a break;
- They remembered that he was evading taxes;
- Ugh into space, it would be better if he gave it to me !! 111.
Nonetheless, Bezos said at the same press conference that he would donate $ 100 million to chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen project to support disaster victims and fight hunger. The same amount will be received by CNN host Van Jones, who supports projects on prisoners’ rights.
Dreams should come true
Along with Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark was aboard the Blue Origin ship. Also there was an 18-year-old student, Oliver Damen, who was given a ticket to space by his father, Dutch billionaire and owner of the investment company Somerset Capital Partners, Jos Damen. It is curious that Oliver became the youngest person to fly into space in the history of mankind, while the oldest was the fourth participant in the flight, the pilot Wally Funk, she is 82 years old.
You can read a fascinating article about Wally Funk on Wikipedia, which details her career. She was very actively preparing for space flights and passed tough tests in the early 60s:
Doctors tested the response of the ulnar nerve using an electric shock to the woman’s forearm. To cause dizziness, they poured ice water into their ears, freezing the inner ear, and timing how quickly they would recover. Women were forced to exhaustion using huge loads on exercise bikes, breathing was checked.
You also need to remember about the skeptical attitude towards women. It was believed that female astronauts could not stand the harsh conditions and physically could not be on an equal footing with men in space. However, after Valentina Tereshkova flew into space in 1963, the attitude changed, but Sally Ride became the first American woman in space – she flew in 1983. But Wally Funk only dreamed of space flight, and in 2021 she was lucky.
Nobody waited longer for her. Despite the completion of training, the program was canceled and none of the 13 women flew into space. It’s time. Welcome to the team, Wally. We are glad that you will fly with us on July 20th as a guest of honor.
Here’s another fun fact: Wally Funk invested in Virgin Galactic to support space travel.