Could Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launch mark a new age for commercial spaceflight?

The Amazon founder and three other civilians took off and landed back on earth within 10 minutes. The trip has ignited questions about whether it was simply a joyride for the super-rich.
7:56 | 07/21/21

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Transcript for Could Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launch mark a new age for commercial spaceflight?
Reporter: Today, billions space travel reached new heights. Jeff bezos, founder of Amazon and blue origin, made history launching into space with three other crew members. The richest man on the planet getting an out-of-this-world experience. I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer. Because you guys paid for all this. Reporter: In 2017, the tech titan told ABC news that he sells $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to fund the program, leaving some to wonder if this is just an opportunity for the ultra-rich, or is bezos' work contributing to furthering space research? People I think like to complain, like oh, a billionaire going to space, why do I care about that? It's not about the going, it's about creating a system down here that brings more people than the government can bring up to space. Command, start. Two, one -- Reporter: Shortly after 9:00 A.M. Eastern time, the new ship pardon, named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, lifted off, beginning its ascent into the atmosphere. Joining bezos on board, his brother Mork, 18-year-old Oliver Damon, the youngest person to go to space, 82-year-old wally funk, the oldest. Minutes later, the capsule speculated from the booster. And the crew began experiencing microgravity. Whoo-hoo! Whoo! Reporter: At about 328,000 feet, they pass the Carmen line, the internationally recognized boundary between Earth and space. Around seven minutes into the flight, the booster touched back down on Earth. The capsule holding bezos' team followed shortly after, floating down gently. Whoo! Reporter: It was the trip of a lifetime for funk, who waited decades for this day. In 1961, funk became the youngest member of the Mercury 13, the first group of women to be put through rigorous astronaut training as part of a women in space program designed to determine if women were as capable of handling space travel as men. Despite completing the training, funk would never get the chance to fly because the program was canceled. Yet she prevailed, becoming the first female investigator for the ftt. Now she's finally an astronaut too. Best I've had in my life, and I've had lots of them. Seeing wally in space meant everything to me, and I think will mean so much to so many women. Reporter: Bezos and his brother mark spoke to my colleague, Michael Strahan. Greatest day ever. Amazing. I mean -- speechless in a way. I don't have the talent to put into words what we just experienced. There are a lot of people who look and they go you know what, billionaire, spent a lot of money to go to space. But this is bigger than that. Things like this inspire kids, and that's a big deal. The other thing that's a big deal is, we need to get good at going to space so that we can save the Earth. Reporter: Bezos, whose name is arguably synonymous with the online retail behemoth Amazon, began building his empire nearly 30 years ago. He has since built Amazon from an online bookstore into a global giant worth more than $1.7 trillion. He has made headlines in recent years, is first with the 2019 announcement of his multibillion-dollar divorce from his wife of 27 years, Mckenzie Scott, recently revealing he planned to step down as Amazon CEO in February. What do you think led to that retirement as CEO? He's close to 60 years old. His personal passion, his hobby has been space and blue origin. Reporter: Like most of America's ultra-wealthy, bezos has come under fire, last month being accused of not paying his fair share of texas's. According to propublic lick character bezos amassed $90 billion in growth, paid $973 million in taxes, less than 1%. This coupled with negative headlines over the years about Amazon workplace conditions, casting a shadow over his achievements. Last year, bezos responded to the criticism, writing, the fact is, the large team of thousands of people who lead operations at Amazon have always cared deeply for our hourly employees and we're proud of the work environment we've created. Despite what we've accomplished, it's clear to me that we need a better vision for our employees' success. The criticism is actually because I think it's made him alter his approach. Reporter: Bezos' trip was the second commercial spaceflight in a little more than a week, perhaps getting us a step closer to civilian space tourism. In a way it's frustrating because we have urgent problems on Earth, including climate change. Bezos is thinking centuries in the future, maybe we can hav an orbiting space station. But he believes you can do both. Reporter: One of the Pete seats on today's launch was auctioned off for a whopping $28 million. When the original ticket holder pulled out, citing scheduling conflicts, that paved the way for the second-highest bidder to take his spot, allowing 18-year-old Oliver Damon from Amsterdam to become the youngest person to go to space. It was a bit more emotional than I would have thought. Reporter: His father, joss Damon, who paid for the ticket, is a millionaire Dutch businessman and founder and CEO of hedge fund Somerset capital It does seem for the foreseeable future, blue origin wants to run auctions and give to it the highest bidder. Who knows how long that will last. Even at $300,000, that's a pricey 10-minute vacation. Reporter: Anushay Ansari who - went to space in 2006 knows firsthand how expensive these trips can be. At that time, the cost of the tickets were about $20 million. However, supply and demand, the cost has gone up significantly. Reporter: While many people have criticized investment in space currism, Ansari says it is critical. I believe it's short-sighted for us to say, why aren't we spending on other things? It's not a question of either/or. We need to invest in both. We need this desire, exploration, gaining knowledge, furthering humanity. Reporter: Bezos says the millions made from today's trip will be donated with a goal to inspire future generations to pursue careers in S.T.E.M. And help invent the future of life in space. For anyone who doesn't believe space has touched their lives, I think they just need to look around them and see the technologies they use today, whether it's entertainment and TV services, the banking system, the gps system in their cars. All of these have been developed because of the space program. Reporter: Bezos is also creating the bezos Earth fund, centered around climate change and sustainability. He hopes that a better life here on Earth and beyond could soon be within our orbit. We're going to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build the future. This is not about escaping Earth. When you go into space and see how fragile it is, you'll want to take care of it even more. That's what this is about. It's going to take decades. This is a big vision. But big things start small.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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