Blue Origin’s next space mission will fly astronaut’s daughter

The crew for Blue Origin’s next suborbital spaceflight includes, clockwise from top left, Bess Ventures founder, Lane Bess; his son Cameron Bess; investor Evan Dick; Michael Strahan, co-host of Good Morning America; Laura Shepard Churchley, eldest daughter of late NASA astronaut Alan Shepard; and philanthropist/space industry executive Dylan Taylor. (Photo via Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue origin space venture is planning to fly six suborbital spaceflight next month, which will mark a first for the company’s New Shepard spacecraft. And that’s not the only first time.

If the NS-19 mission goes as planned on December 9, those on board will include the first father and son group in space, the first American professional journalist in space, and the first daughter of NASA. an astronaut. it is her.

In a nutshell, the astronaut’s daughter is Laura Shepard Churchley – whose father, Alan Shepard, is first American in space in 1961, provided the inspiration for New Shepard’s name.

“It’s fun when I say that an original Shepard will fly over the New Shepard,” Churchley, 74, said in a statement. recordings published by Blue Origin. “I’m really excited to be on the Blue Origin flight. I am very proud of my father’s legacy.”

The journalist is Michael Strahan, the co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​and the host of the game show “The $100,000 Pyramid,” a former soccer star and soccer analyst. present day television.

“Blue Origin, they approached me and they asked me if I wanted to be a crew member. And without hesitation, I said yes,” Strahan said on this morning’s GMA show. Strahan will follow the first journalist in space, Japan Toyohiro Akiyama, who arrived at Russia’s Mir space station in 1990.

Churchley and Strahan will be flying as guests of Blue Origin. In one New information posted, Blue Origin says that Strahan will be paid an allowance as a crew member, and that the stipend will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America.

The father and son are Lane Bess, a longtime technology executive who founded a venture capital firm called Bess Ventures, and his son Cameron Bess.

They won’t be the first parents and children to fly into space. That distinction belongs to the late NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, who worked on the Skylab space station in 1973 and on a space shuttle mission in 1983; and Richard Garriott, a video game creator who paid a million dollars to travel to the International Space Station in 2008. But they will be the first parent-child duo to fly on the same space mission. , although the suborbital rather than the orbital.

Rounding out the sequel is Evan Dick, an engineer, investor, and managing member of New Jersey-based Dick Holdings LLC; and Dylan Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Space travel and founder of a non-profit group called Space for Humanity.

In one blog entry announcing his participation in the quest, Taylor announced “a gift set that I would ask all other commercial astronauts to consider.”

“I call it buy one, get one free. … It’s simple, donating to worthy causes here on Earth equals the price of a spaceflight ticket,” he wrote. Taylor says his chosen beneficiaries will include Space for Humanity as well as AstroAccess, Edesia Nutrition, NS Patti Grace Smith Scholarship and Brooke Owens Scholarship.

Taylor, Dick, and Besses are paying for an undisclosed ticket to their space travel.

This will be the 19th New Shepard flight since 2015, with 16 undeclared missions on the list.

All six astronauts will go through the same procedure that Blue Origin’s two previous crews went through – The first quartet of July, which includes Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark, plus aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen; and October’s crew of four, which stars 90-year-old Star Trek actor William Shatner.

Crew NS-19 will arrive at Blue Origin’s launch complex in West Texas a few days before its December 9 flight and board the New Shepard spacecraft for a suborbital trip that will give them a few minutes of weightlessness. and astronauts- see with the eyes of the Earth bent below the black sky. The autopilot trip will last about 10 minutes, from take-off to landing using a crew parachute.

The New Shepard booster is designed to land on its own separately on a pad not far from where it will be launched.

In addition to the passengers, Blue Origin will send a postcard on behalf of each astronaut from Club for the future, the company’s nonprofit educational platform. The club’s “Postcards to Space” program sent thousands of messages from students to space and back to New Shepard.

Blue Origin says the launch target is 9 a.m. CT (7 a.m. Pacific Time), with a live release scope starting at at minutes T-minus-90.

Next month’s flight is likely to end a banner year for commercial human flight. In addition to Blue Origin’s suborbital missions, Virgin Galactic sent its billionaire founder, Richard Branson, SpaceShipTwo Unity’s suborbital test flight in July. And in September, SpaceX put a billionaire-backed crew into orbit for the mission Inspiring Charity4.

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