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Billionaire Bezos, crew blast off into space on successful visit

Billionaire Jeff Bezos and a crew that included an 81-year-old former astronaut-in-training and a Dutch teen whose father paid for the flight, completed a successful launch to the edge of space Tuesday from the US state of Texas.

"Whoo-hoo! Oh my God, it's dark up here!," marveled Wally Funk, the oldest person in space, as the crew spent a few minutes in weightlessness about 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the surface of the Earth.

"You have a very happy crew up here," Bezos said. His brother, Mark, was the fourth crew member.

A long, tubular rocket blasted the New Shepard space capsule to its maximum height before drifting back to Earth, guided by two parachutes, before landing with a thud and a cloud of dust on a prairie.

No one seemed more awed by the trip than Funk, who trained to be an astronaut in the 1960s but was denied the opportunity to fly to space because she is a woman.

After she and the others emerged from the capsule, surrounded by a small gaggle of friends, family, co-workers and reporters, she threw her hands in the air, beaming, and exclaimed: "Oh my God, it was so great! You have to go!"


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