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In 1994, Jeff Bezos and his then-wife, MacKenzie, drove from New York City to Seattle so he could start a new company to sell books on the internet. Assuming a normal highway speed, they would have zipped past 65 mile markers every hour during their 2,500-mile journey. Today, funded by the billions of dollars he made from that much-expanded company, Jeff Bezos traveled the most important 65 miles in his life: straight up, to the doorstep of space. It took him a little over three minutes to achieve that altitude. He was the first passenger on New Shepard, the suborbital rocket system built by his company, Blue Origin.

Joining Bezos—and the ranks of the 580 people who have previously traveled to space—were his brother Mark, 53, a volunteer fireman and philanthropist who now runs an equity fund; Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer who was denied a chance to become a Mercury astronaut because she was a woman; and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old student whose bid of millions won him the distinction of …

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