Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his civilian crewmates returned to the Earth’s surface safely after rocketing into space Tuesday aboard his Blue Origin spacecraft.

The crew launched from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One facility in West Texas at 9 a.m. ET and were in flight for 11 minutes. Bezos’ trip comes nine days after Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson flew to about 85 kilometres in the air aboard a rocket ship he helped fund.

Global News will stream the launch at 9 a.m. ET in the video above.

Read more: Jeff Bezos ready to fly into space aboard Blue Origin as weather holds steady

Joining Bezos, age 57, was Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old son of a Dutch auction bidder, who is the youngest person to ever go to space. The launch also featured the oldest person to go to space, 82-year-old Wally Funk.

Funk is one of 13 female pilots who passed the same rigorous testing as the NASA Mercury 7 male astronauts in the early 1960s but never made it into space because only men were allowed at the time.

The ex-Amazon CEO’s brother, Mark Bezos, also accompanied him on Blue Origin’s spaceship, dubbed the New Shepard spacecraft.

The launch was witnessed by members of the Bezos family and Blue Origin employees, and a few spectators gathered along the highway before dawn. Spectators applauded during the flight.

The New Shepard spacecraft was named after Alan Shepard, the first U.S. citizen to travel in space during a suborbital flight as part of NASA’s Mercury program in 1961.

View link »

The spacecraft, which cannot be piloted from the inside, didn’t enter into orbit but instead flew 100 kilometres above the earth.

Bezos and his three crewmates engaged in a crash training course on Sunday in preparation for the flight, which included safety briefings, a simulation of the spaceflight, a review of the rocket and its operations, and instruction on how to float around the craft’s cabin after the capsule sheds Earth’s gravity.

The suborbital launch marked a crucial test for Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, a 18.3 metre tall and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that could help the billionaire tap into the space tourism market.

The likely lucrative race to commercialize space has attracted the attention of other billionaires, including Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Read more: SpaceX to launch first all-civilian flight into orbit by end of 2021

Musk and SpaceX are promising to soar to even greater heights than Bezos and Branson, sending an all-civilian crew for a several-day orbital flight aboard its four-seat Crew Dragon capsule.

Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO early July, handing over the reins to Andy Jassy, who ran Amazon’s cloud-computing business.

– With files from Reuters and the Associated Press