Blue Origin launch will inspire the next generation of explorers, Franklin Institute expert predicts

The launch of the Blue Origin rocket on Tuesday is just the first step in more things to come, experts say.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A rocket launch on Tuesday morning marked the beginning of a new era of space exploration, this time led by private citizens.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos blasted into space during his rocket company's first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

"Did we ever think that individuals from completely outside the space sector of industry would decide, 'hey you know, I have $100 billion, I can make this happen myself,'" said Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer of the Franklin Institute. "We never expected that to happen."

WATCH: Full video of Blue Origin rocket launch
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Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company's first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.


Pitts said he closely watched both the launch of Bezos' Blue Origin rocket and Virgin Galactic's flight last week. He insists these will have ripple effects on the next generation.

"You could identify a kid who's in school somewhere between kindergarten and 8th grade who was watching today," said Pitts. "Somebody in the group is going to go to Mars, that's the way to think of it. Here's their inspiration they saw today."

Last week, billionaire Richard Branson selected La Salle College High School alum Mike Masucci to co-pilot the first ever space tourism flight.

Tuesday morning, Blue Origin launched Jeff Bezos into space, but without a pilot as it was fully automated. Tickets for future Virgin Galactic flights range from $200,000 to $250,000.

"It would be the greatest adventure there could be: going into orbit, maybe going to the moon," said Daniel Trock of Buffalo.

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"Best day ever," Jeff Bezos said after the capsule touched down on the desert floor at the end of the 10-minute flight.


Others, like 10-year-old Joseph Guzik, said only qualified astronauts should go to space.

"I thought other people... they're not trained and they wouldn't know basically how to behave themselves in space," said Guzik. "I just feel like they would be doing front flips everywhere."

But experts say this is just the first step of more things to come as private citizens continue to invest in science.

"People were going to the moon just to show that they could do it," said Dr. Jim Napolitano, Physics Professor at Temple University. "This kind of activity is really going on because people want to show that they can do things they weren't able to do before based on a concerted private effort and not really needing the government to pull it off."

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Video from Blue Origin shows the inside of the New Shepherd capsule during the July 20 launch.

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