Jeff Bezos brought his sci-fi obsessions to space, with nods to Star Trek, Apollo 11 more

Jeff Bezos has always had his head in the clouds.

The world’s richest man — and “Star Trek” superfan — got to fulfill his dream of becoming a “space cowboy” Tuesday with his record-setting suborbital jaunt.

The brief trip to space featured nods to his lifelong obsession with science-fiction and the cosmos — with Bezos even bringing along precious aviation artifacts with him on the excursion.

From the launch of his company Blue Origin to the namesake of his New Shepard rocket, here are more details of Bezos’ forever fascination with space:

Aviation artifacts in flight

Bezos couldn’t resist heading to space without bringing items tied to flight history.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc, his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and recent Dutch high school graduate Oliver Daemen pose in an undated photograph, ahead of their scheduled flight aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket near Van Horn, Texas, U.S.
Jeff Bezos and his crew consisting of his brother Mark (left), a recent Dutch high school grad Oliver Daemen (right), and aviator pioneer Wally Funk (sitting) pose for a photograph.
via REUTERS

Onboard the New Shepard were a pair of goggles worn by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart when she flew across the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1927. She disappeared in 1937.

“Thank you Amelia wherever you are, we hope you are watching this,” Bezos said while putting on the goggles during a news conference after his excursion.

The crew also took with them a piece of canvas from the Wright Flyer, the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft designed and built by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s.

They also packed a bronze medallion made from the first hot air balloon flight in 1783.

“And we brought those precious items back,” Bezos quipped.

Bezos the Trekkie

Bezos has loved “Star Trek” since childhood, and has said that Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa was inspired by the all-knowing computer on the Starship Enterprise.

He even lobbied Paramount to let him have a role in a “Star Trek” movie — and he did have a cameo in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond,” playing an alien in a brief scene.

Jeff Bezos in Star Trek Beyond
The multi-billionaire has loved the interstellar film and TV series Star Trek since he was a kid. He even acted in “Star Trek Beyond.”
Paramount Pictures

“It was super-fun for me,” he said at the time. “It was a bucket list item.”

Before takeoff on Tuesday, Blue Origin member Sarah Knight read a note from the billionaire’s sister Christina Bezos mentioning their and brother Mark Bezos’ love of the sci-fi series.

“As you buckle in, I’m reminded of when Jeff was Captain Kirk, Mark you were Zulu, and I took the role of Lieutenant Uhura,” said the message. “We would battle Klingons while firing torpedoes, all the while dodging in and out of traffic and praying that we may get to our destination safely.”

“Mark, be prepared to fire those torpedoes in order to do so. Now hurry up and get your asses back down here so I can give you a huge hug. We love you, and Godspeed New Shepard.”

‘Space cowboy’ and his rocket

A true “space cowboy,” Bezos rocked a cowboy hat from Van Horn, Texas before and after his mission to space in New Shepard — a rocket-and-capsule combo named for Alan Shepard.

In 1961, Shepard became the first American in space during a suborbital flight as part of NASA’s pioneering Mercury program.

At the post-flight press conference, Bezos geeked out, noting he took pictures with Shepard’s daughters Tuesday.

“I got some pictures with them backstage, and those are getting blown up — big,” he said.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc, rings a bell before boarding ahead of his scheduled flight aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket near Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021 in a still image from video.
Jeff Bezos wore a cowboy hat from Van Horn, Texas before and after his mission to space.
via REUTERS

Meanwhile, the shape of New Shepard garnered comparisons online to Dr. Evil’s phallic-shaped craft in the 1999 flick “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

“So, I watched the Blue Origin launch and I swear all I saw was Dr Evil’s rocket,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Congrats to Jeff Bezos on getting so close to a perfect Austin Powers reference,” another user added.

Bezos’ cowboy hat also lit up social media.

“Who let Jeff Bezos take his cowboy hat into space?” wrote one Twitter user.

A lifelong dream

Bezos, 57, founded Blue Origin in 2000, but the aerospace company was a long time coming.

The year prior, the Amazon founder remarked to science fiction author Neal Stephenson, that “I’ve always wanted to start a rocket company, that’s always been my dream,’” according to Christian Davenport, who profiled Bezos in his book “The Space Barons.”

The move, Bezos said, prompted his high school girlfriend to note, “Jeff started Amazon just to get enough money to do Blue Origin.”

Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos pose for a picture after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard
Jeff Bezos’ lifelong dream of being among the stars has been realized.
Getty Images

He added, “And I can’t prove her wrong.”

The company’s name refers to Earth’s nickname — “the blue planet” — as being the point of origin for humankind.

“It’s called Blue Origin because this is the blue planet and this is the planet that we have to save,” Bezos explained in 2019. “This is the good planet in our solar system. We’ve sent robotic probes to all the planets now, this is the only good one.”

Paying homage to Apollo 11

Bezos has said he first became enamored with space while watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing on July 20, 1969.

He chose the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing for his own spaceflight.

In 2013, Bezos spent three weeks at sea to recover pieces of the Apollo 11 engine. The artifacts were later installed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

In 2013, Bezos spent three weeks at sea to recover pieces of the Apollo 11 engine
Bezos spent three weeks at sea to recover pieces of the Apollo 11 engine.
Josh Bernstein

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