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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has become the latest billionaire to (briefly) play space tourist, just more than a week after Virgin's Richard Branson.

Blue Origin's New Shephard rocket blasted off on Tuesday with Bezos aboard, along with three other civilians.

They included both the world's oldest (82) and youngest (18) space travellers.

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The space flight was planned to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing,

Can Bezos and Branson add the title of astronaut to their list of their billionaire achievements?

And where does space begin? Bruce Whitfield asks astronomer and author David Block.

Technically speaking, space would begin at the end of our tenuous atmosphere... at about 80 kms up. They went 107 kms up, so they did enter the domain of space.

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

But it's a loooong extrapolation to call them astronauts!

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

To my mind this is far more of a joyride (chuckles)... The cost is at around R4 million per minute!

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

Is there any scientific value to these sorts of expeditions?

Not yet, is Block's answer.

You're only up for ten minutes. I think the money of [SA-born]Mark Shuttleworth was far better invested in 2002 when he spent eight days aboard the International Space Station. That cost a cool R220 million... but there he did conduct scientific experiments for us in South Africa.

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

I salute these people for their entrepreneurship in that they want to move frontiers forward, but certainly one cannot compare what's happening today to the real thing in terms of going to the moon or inter-planetary travel...

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

I spent my entire life studying stars, galaxies, planets, but there's nothing quite like looking at this pale blue dot with its swirling clouds... just looking at the beauty of it from space... but ten minutes is probably a lot more palatable for the multitudes rather than spending four months on an international space station!

Prof. David Block, Astronomer and author

Listen to the fascinating conversation with Prof. Block on The Money Show:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : [VIDEOS] Jeff Bezos blasts off to become the latest space billionaire

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