Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest guy, has achieved one of his to-do list items this year by going to space before Elon Musk does. He didn’t quite get the prize of being the first billionaire to complete a suborbital flight, which went to Richard Branson earlier this month, but he does get one for being the first to go there and then get picked up by a car from the company he sort of part-owns.
The Blue Origin flight took off earlier today with Bezos, his brother Mark, genuine aviation legend Wally Funk (who at 82 was completing a dream she got denied by state space programs), and a Dutch teenager named Oliver Daeman who’d originally booked the second passenger seat but the first rider was a no-show. Upon their arrival back on Earth, a fleet of electric Rivian adventure vehicles was sent to retrieve the crew. This is the type of TV tie-in you’d expect from Bezos, who was in charge of Amazon when it pledged $700 million in the EV startup. Rivian is also building the e-commerce giant’s battery-powered delivery vans.
The rocket launch went as planned with all four passengers going straight up through the atmosphere, entirely unlike your best attempts in Kerbal Space Program. Then, after reaching a peak altitude of 66.5 miles, a capsule detached and descended to earth via parachute, slowing to come down gently at the planned landing site.
Aside from being a great way to add to the vast amount of space crap we’ve put in orbit, rockets are a super-efficient vehicle to get there with—the whole thing only lasted about 11 minutes. This at least means the live cast didn’t take up too much of anyone’s day and a unionized worker might even be able to fit it into one of their permitted toilet breaks.
Jeff himself was chauffered in a Rivian R1S, the electric SUV that you’ve been able to configure online since November 2020 but is currently delayed until Q4 this year with no specific arrival date. In top spec, the R1S is set to produce over 700 horsepower with quad-motor all-wheel drive. As for the R1T pickups also on-site, the powertrain specs are largely the same, though the trucks have a few party tricks of their own—like a whole heckin’ camp kitchen.
You could cynically assume this was a marketing ploy or at least some sort of flex on that other EV guy who hasn’t managed to get his own rocket up yet.
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