The Best Inventions of 2021
November 10, 2021 6:11 AM EST

On Oct. 13, the actor William Shatner and three others boarded a rocket and were shot 62 miles into the sky, to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, heralding a new era of commercial space tourism. Captain Kirk’s vessel: the New Shepard rocket, a nimble, 59-ft.-tall booster and capsule designed and built by Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by former Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. The rocket has so far carried two crews of space tourists on brief, 11-minute hops to space. It uses clean-burning liquid oxygen and hydrogen fuel and is entirely reusable, with the capsule portion descending by parachute and the booster portion returning to Earth under its own engine power and landing upright. Interested in blasting off yourself? Unfortunately, Blue Origin has not yet announced a price for New Shepard tickets or a date when they will be publicly offered. —Jeffrey Kluger

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