'Who Wants A Skittle?' And Other Things Overheard On Jeff Bezos' Trip To Space

Jul 20, 2021
Originally published on July 20, 2021 6:17 pm

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered his famous line on the moon: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." And 52 years later to the day, Jeff Bezos or his brother (from the audio, it's unclear which of the two) asked as their crew hit zero gravity, "Who wants a Skittle?"

On Tuesday morning, the team blasted off from the desert near Van Horn, Texas, and entered space aboard New Shepard, the launch vehicle created by Bezos' company Blue Origin.

The flight of just over 10 minutes made Amazon founder Bezos the second billionaire to enter space, with the flight also carrying Bezos' brother, Mark; 82-year-old female aviation pioneer Wally Funk; and Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old son of a millionaire. (Just days earlier, Richard Branson traveled to the edge of space aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.)

Blue Origin YouTube / YouTube

An elated crew could be heard whooping with delight in the background throughout the flight. Several cries of "Woo!" and "Woo-hoo!" could be heard as they passed the Kármán Line, considered to be the edge of space.

Once hitting zero gravity, one of the Bezos brothers can be heard asking the crew members if they want a Skittle. After several seconds pass, the entire capsule erupts in celebratory cheers.

One of the most expressive passengers aboard was 82-year-old Funk. "Oh, Jeff, look at those — it's dark up here!" she said during the flight.

Likely looking out the window at Earth below, she said, "Oh my word, look at the world!"

"There's a very happy group of people on this capsule," Bezos told ground control, following up with a status update: "Happy, happy, happy."

"Well, that was intense!" one of the Bezos brothers said on the way down.

Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule parachutes down to the launch area following its flight into space on Tuesday.
Tony Gutierrez / AP

When the capsule made its return to Earth and hit the ground, a status update summed up each astronaut's feelings at the moment.

Status, Oliver Daemen: "Great."

Status, Wally Funk: "We'll be OK."

Status, Mark Bezos: "I am unbelievably good."

Status Jeff Bezos: "Best day ever."

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

: 7/19/21

An earlier version of this story omitted the word "small" from astronaut Neil Armstrong's quote "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

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