Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, thanked his employees and customers on Tuesday for subsidizing his Blue Origin spaceflight, during which he and three others spent 11 minutes inside the “New Shepard” capsule after lifting off from the desert in Van Horn County, Texas.
“[I] want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this. So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there, and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart, very much. It’s very appreciated,” said a cowboy hat-sporting Bezos upon returning to Earth with his fellow passengers, younger brother Mark Bezos; aviation pioneer Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, 82, and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen.
The New Shepard, named for Alan Shepard, the first American in space, took off on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the automated capsule reached an altitude of about 66 miles, more than 10 miles higher than Virgin founder Richard Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot (18-meter) booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough, before separating and landing upright.
Upon his return to terra firma, Bezos was roasted by critics for his comments thanking customers for the reported $5.5 billion cost of the Blue Origin endeavor.’
The New York Daily News reported that the ticket cost for one seat on Tuesday’s flight was $28 million, with the Big Apple publication remarking a New Yorker could buy 5.4 million hot dogs at Nathan’s Famous on Coney Island for that amount.
Stars & Stripes journalist David Choi also retweeted video of Bezos’ comments, remarking “I’d like a refund.”
In the U.S. Senate, progressive Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tore into the billionaire, repeating her call for a “wealth tax” and accusing Bezos and the company he founded, Amazon, of paying no taxes:
“Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing,” Warren tweeted.
Warren’s fellow Bay State lawmaker, Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, further criticized Bezos’ remarks, saying they remind Americans that it doesn’t take “a rocket scientist to know it’s time for billionaires to pay their fair share.”
Across the northern border, the leader of Canada’s far-left New Democratic Party echoed Warren, calculating that Bezos became $1.6 million wealthier during the 11-minute flight, and accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of allowing Amazon to pay “$0 in taxes.”
“Jeff Bezos’s space flight lasted 11 minutes During the pandemic, every 11 minutes, he got about 1.6 million dollars richer… It’s time the ultra-rich pay their fair share,” MP Jagmeet Singh of British Columbia province wrote on Twitter.
“Just ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things for Jeff Bezos,” tweeted Mother Jones reporter Timothy Murphy.
Bezos is worth a reported $177 billion, which he has accrued since founding the e-commerce giant in his Bellevue, Wash., garage in 1994.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.