The new shepherd craft blasted off with its crew, including bezos’s brother and the youngest and oldest people, to have ever been into space it’s, the first commercial flight for the tycoon’s blue origin space tourism company, the capsule reached a height of around 100 kilometers above earth. Just on the edge of space, the passengers experienced about three minutes of being weightless before beginning their descent and touchdown. The capsule landed safely at t plus 10 minutes and elated jeff, bezos and crewmo. Shortly after on the texas launch sites, he could be heard describing the trip as the best day ever live now to rob reynolds who’s near that launch site for us in van horn, texas, sir rob just walk us through the events of the past 60 minutes. Well, uh peter it was a pretty uh, exciting time for people watching all around the world and and for us here to be able to see the contrail of the rockets. Shooting straight up into the air was really an amazing sight. The blast off came after a couple of delays, but when it did come, it was uh without incident. Uh the uh rocket uh by jeff uh that has been developed by jeff bezos’s blue origin corporation with the uh shepherd ii capsule on top reached an altitude of about 100 kilometers above the earth. The uh speed of the ascent was three times the speed of sound mach 3, so they were really feeling the g forces i’m sure as they were uh strapped in uh.

In that capsule, then the booster rocket detached uh floated back to earth where it uh landed. Uh intact and after uh, several minutes of uh weightlessness uh, a lot of shouting and gleeful uh uh noise from the uh four passengers in the uh fully automated capsule. It too began its descent and deployed its parachutes, landed softly and successfully in the texas desert, and then we are now waiting for a press conference by jeff bezos and the other three uh newly minted astronauts uh, which should take place in an hour or two. From now we we haven’t been given an exact time for that event to take place, but we will uh certainly hear more from uh these new space travelers about what their experience was like and uh. You know peter for for those of us who are old enough to remember the early days of space exploration, both the the the russian or soviet uh exploits and the american apollo program that reached the moon 52 years ago today, which is no coincidence by the way Of course, jeff bezos planned it that way. These images really did kind of. I think return that sense of excitement that sense of crossing a new frontier that sense of new possibilities, uh uh escaping from from earth’s bonds and going into space, albeit for just a few minutes. Um and – and that really, i think, is something that uh perhaps is – is the most significant thing that that might come away from this um sure it was in part ego driven by the world’s richest man.

It was in part, uh an attempt to launch a lucrative space tourism enterprise, but it’s it’s. The lasting impact of this may be to get some people a little more excited about the idea of uh journeying beyond earth uh and seeing what possibilities there might be for mankind uh in doing so, not simply as a stunt, but as perhaps some way of finding Lasting scientific uh discoveries and contributions for the people of earth dear of mankind. Forgive me rob for my next question i’m, not going to ask you anything about to do with a potential space race between wealthy entrepreneurs who are worth billions and billions. You and i have spent the last 18 months talking about covid and coronavirus and massive death tolls and massive infection rates. Is there a link of commonality, however, between the events today and the space missions of the apollo era, when it was at its height and it’s hope, it’s about america being allowed to feel good again about america there’s good times coming back it kind of inculcates that Atmosphere of oh this, this has been a success. We can enjoy this for some. I think yes, but we live in a very different america than than we did in 1969 when uh, when, when human beings first stepped on on the moon, it’s a divided country uh. There are people who refuse to believe the coronavirus is a real thing. There are people who know the coronavirus is a real thing and yet refuse to get uh readily available injections to prevent it.

There are those who refuse to wear masks uh, so the politicized atmosphere, uh that exists in 2021 is is far different from even uh the uh, the the again highly politicized and conflicted atmosphere of the late 1960s, but uh having having said all that, i think yes, There will be certainly some people who will feel this is an accomplishment. This shows what people with great engineering skills, with enormous scientific knowledge uh with with about belief in science, which is important uh what they can do and what they can accomplish, and that does carry with it. Some um some message for the the current state of affairs. Here on earth with regard to our global pandemic here on earth for sure rob, many thanks. Rob reynolds reporting live there from van horn in texas. Well, earlier this month, the entrepreneur richard branson as we’ve been hearing took off his specially designed rocket plane. They are both major milestones in the push towards private commercial space travel like branson bezos and his new shepard craft didn’t go fast enough to go around the planet, so it’s being called a sub orbital flight. Instead, passengers spent a few minutes experiencing. Weightlessness bezos did reach outer space, which the world governing body the fia puts at around 100 kilometers above the surface. Now branson only made it to what some say is the edge of space, his virgin galactic mission reaching an altitude of 88 kilometers. Both commercial flights are still a good way from the international space station which orbits uh earth at around 400 kilometers above us spacex, the company owned by the third billionaire elon musk, has already delivered astronauts to the space station.

His commercial flights are due to launch later. This year, let’s talk now to tanya harrison she’s, a fellow at the university of british columbia’s outer space institute. She joins us on skype, from washington, dc tania. Harrison welcome to al jazeera is today a game changer, i would say so we’re. Finally, seeing all of these commercial space companies getting to the point where they’re launching humans to either the edge of space or into space and that’s really going to change the paradigm of you know how much it costs and how difficult it is to send humans. Not just for space tourism, but for scientific research and sending more humans to the space station. What do we get from it in terms of humanity? In general? I mean rob, put it really well in his field report. Actually, there’s not just inspiration coming to people watching this in the hopes that they might want to enter something related to space. They might want to enter science and technology and engineering fields that benefit us here on earth. You know working on satellites that image the earth. Every day to teach us about the effects of climate change or work on engineering to help us combat some of the impacts of climate change on the space station, for example, they’re doing a lot of biomedical research to try and see if we can find cures for Infectious diseases or treatments for cancer and so there’s a lot of impacts on research that we do in space that maybe the general public isn’t all that aware of, but everything that we do in space is really geared at trying to improve our lives here on earth.

Clearly for us uh tethered, if you will down here on terra firma, we have got a lot from the space race from the apollo mission. The shuttle missions, the russian missions as well there’s there’s, clearly a trickle down and the technology, the technology that we’re using to have this conversation right now. This signal is going up up across and down and you’re talking to me and i’m. Listening to you and that’s wonderful, but given that these people, these three main people, jeff bezos, richard branson and elon musk, are at the cutting edge of amazing, compelling, astonishingly good technology. Why doesn’t somebody whisper in three ears and say you guys for the greater good of humanity you guys should be working together, that’s an excellent question and i i think even beyond that. Why are governments not working more closely? You know space agencies with these people we’re. Seeing this huge uh burst of innovation and the speed at which they can do things that is so much faster than any government can do, and so i think we could see collaboration on that front to push more scientific exploration, more exploration of space in general, and I mean at the end of the day it would be really great to have this star trek esque world, where we have everybody working together for the benefit of humanity and not having these capitalistic fights over. You know who can do the next thing first, who can make the most money um, unfortunately, it’s, not the society that we live in right now, but maybe someday we can get to that point.

I certainly hope so. I think you’ve just changed into being jean luc picard uh tanya. Thank you so much for talking to us. We do appreciate your time great to talk to you.