Blue Origin, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos's space tourism company, has successfully launched for the first time. Bezos has been playing close to the vest, so this is some of the first real information about his project: "Our first objective is developing New Shepard, a vertical take-off, vertical-landing vehicle designed to take a small number of astronauts on a sub-orbital journey into space. On the morning of November 13, 2006, we launched and landed Goddard – a first development vehicle in the New Shepard program. The launch was both useful and fun." Blue Origin has just released pictures and video here .
Bezos also says, "My only job at the launch was to open the champagne, and I broke the cork off in the bottle. : ) Fortunately, our other valve operations went more smoothly."
Be sure to check out my article "Space Travel for Fun and Profit" in the January print edition for more about the near-future of private space travel.
(Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is a supporter of reason and one of our 35 Heroes of Freedom. He is also a badass, donations or not.)