Inside billion-nauts Bezos and Branson's multi-million dollar race to space

accreditation
Share your Subscriber Article
You have 5 articles to share every month. Send this story to a friend!
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Richard Branson was the first British billionaire in space, in the VSS Unity which took off and returned on 11 July. (Picture: Gallo/ Getty Images)
Richard Branson was the first British billionaire in space, in the VSS Unity which took off and returned on 11 July. (Picture: Gallo/ Getty Images)

The best day ever. That’s how the richest man on Earth describes his journey to the edge of space – although that odyssey took up only a fraction of his day. In fact, it took just 11 minutes from blast off to touch down but for Jeff Bezos and the three other people aboard the New Shepard rocket, it was as close to heaven as you can get.

“It was unbelievably good,” an ecstatic Jeff (57) says. “We’re a very happy crew.”

That crew consisted of his brother, Mark (53), a volunteer firefighter who does work for Blue Origin, Jeff’s space exploration business, Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk (82), who became the oldest person to travel to space, and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen (18), the youngest person to go to space. Oliver’s dad, Joes Daemen, the billionaire owner of a private equity fund, bought his son’s ticket on auction for $28 million (R406m). 

Support independent journalism
Subscribe to News24 for just R75 per month to read all our investigative and in-depth journalism. You can cancel any time.
Subscribe
Already a subscriber? Sign in