Blue Origin’s subsequent crewed space mission will see “Good Morning America” anchor Michael Strahan fly to space with 5 different individuals.
On Saturday (Dec. 11), Blue Origin‘s third crewed flight on its New Shepard spacecraft will embrace Strahan, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard‘s daughter Laura Shepard Churchley, and 4 paying passengers: Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick and parent-child pair Lane and Cameron Bess.
The NS-19 mission’s launch time for New Shepard is ready for 8:45 a.m. native time (9:45 a.m. EDT; 1345 GMT) from the corporate’s Launch Site One close to Van Horn, Texas.
Here’s the whole lot you must know in regards to the flight.
What time is Blue Origin’s launch and may I watch?
The launch of New Shepard’s third crewed flight will probably be broadcast Saturday (Dec. 11) with a probable begin time of roughly 8:15 a.m. EDT (1215 GMT) at BlueOrigin.com and right here at Space.com, if attainable. Liftoff is anticipated at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT) however may change relying on climate or technical issues.
New Shepard flights usually final 11 minutes and sometimes, a minimum of primarily based on the crewed flights thus far, a reside broadcast with the astronauts will seemingly be obtainable at BlueOrigin.com. If that occurs, Blue Origin will seemingly stream it on-line and Space.com will simulcast it if attainable. The firm additionally plans mission updates via @BlueOrigin on Twitter.
New Shepard flights carry the spacecraft properly above the 62-mile (100 kilometers) Kármán line seen because the boundary of space by worldwide authorities. (Competitor Virgin Galactic doesn’t journey that prime, and the 2 corporations have squabbled about this matter.) The New Shepard rocket will land on the launch website autonomously and the crew capsule, after flying to space and separating from the booster, will descend minutes later below a parachute.
Who is Blue Origin launching on New Shepard?
New Shepard’s third crewed will carry six passengers, however no pilot because the space capsule is an automatic system. The crew will embrace:
Michael Strahan, 50, co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America,” host of “$100,000 Pyramid” and analyst of “Fox NFL Sunday” during the football season. Strahan will be the second retired NFL football player to launch into space, having been a defensive end for the New York Giants for 15 seasons. (The first, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, spent 23 days in space across two space shuttle missions.) Strahan, who at 6 feet, 5 inches tall (196 cm), will become the tallest person in history to reach space.
Laura Shepard Churchley, 74, the eldest daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, who flew on NASA’s first-ever human spaceflight mission in 1961, and the moon landing mission Apollo 14 in 1970. Churchley is the chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She also is an honorary consultant to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium in Concord, New Hampshire and a board member (past and present) on various space organizations.
Dylan Taylor, 51, chairman and CEO of the space exploration firm Voyager Space, founder of the nonprofit Space for Humanity, and co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Blue Origin says Dylan is an early-stage investor in more than 50 young businesses and is thought to be the most active private space investor worldwide.
Evan Dick, age not disclosed, an engineer and investor who is a volunteer pilot for Starfighters Aerospace. His past work includes quantitative finance at D.E. Shaw, statistical arbitrage at Highbridge Capital Management, and building a simulator for the Telesat 7 communication satellite at G.E. Astro Space.
Lane Bess, age not disclosed, principal and founder of a technology-focused venture fund called Bess Ventures and Advisory. He founded and helped grow Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks, and currently serves as a trustee at Carnegie Mellon University.
Cameron Bess, age not disclosed, is a child of Lane. They stream a variety of content on Twitch under the alias MeepsKitten. Their goal, according to Blue Origin, is to reach audiences who are “usually misunderstood.” Bess added in their biography: “Cameron identifies as pansexual, and is proud to characterize marginalized communities, and hopes their journey can encourage others.” Bess is the third recognized LGBTQ+ spaceflyer after NASA’s Sally Ride (the primary American lady in space) and Anne McClain, who’s a part of the “Artemis crew” of astronauts anticipated to fly moon missions.
What is Blue Origin’s mission for the flight?
New Shepard has performed 18 flights prior this one; the current mission is called NS-19. Most of those previous flights had no crew members on board, being uncrewed tests or payload research flights.
The most recent flight was on Oct. 13, when New Shepard despatched a crew of 4 into space, starring “Star Trek” captain William Shatner. Prior to that, Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight on July 20 included four people, such as founder Jeff Bezos and Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk.
New Shepard is named after Mercury astronaut (and Laura Shepard Churchley’s father) Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space in 1961. The rocket is about 60 feet (18 meters) tall and passengers experience “weightlessness” in suborbital space for about three minutes. Blue Origin has not yet disclosed seat pricing to the public; competitor Virgin Galactic now sells seats for $450,000 a piece.
Infographic: How Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket works
Regardless of the cost, the spaceflight lasts about 11 minutes from launch to landing. No pilots are included onboard because the rocket can fly autonomously to the launch pad; it is aerodynamically stabilized using a ring and wedge fins. As for the crew, they descend back to Earth under a parachute a few minutes after the rocket lands.
Blue Origin cites the spacecraft’s “huge, stunning home windows” and its flight altitude as marketing tools to attract the super-rich for future flights, although the company is also looking for customers willing to pay for experiments in microgravity.
What will Blue Origin astronauts experience?
Unlike her father, Shepard Churchley likely only received 14 hours of training over a few days, to learn basic flight and emergency procedures. Otherwise, the spacecraft flies autonomously. “It seems to be like the identical factor that Daddy did, nearly 5 minutes shorter,” Churchley mentioned in an interview with collectSPACE.com.
Crews additionally sometimes don’t wear spacesuits, instead wearing blue jumpsuits with Blue Origin apparel. This is unlike what professional astronauts do, although the upside is within the capsule, the crew can easily move around during the weightless phase and make comments about the view.
Blue Origin’s first auction in 2021 featured a terms and conditions document for flight crews asking spaceflyers to meet requirements such as dressing themselves in flight suits and ascending the launch tower (seven flights of stairs) in less than 90 seconds.
Flying on New Shepard is a high-risk activity, even though Blue Origin talks about aspects like the view, the autonomous experience and the shirtsleeve environment. Passengers face risks such as cabin depressurization or dealing with multiple forces of gravity (G-loads) during launch and landing. In case of emergency, the crew does know how to unstrap themselves in 15 seconds.
On Sept. 30, a group of 21 Blue Origin employees (nearly all anonymous) wrote an essay severely criticizing the company’s culture and safety practices, alleging the company was rushing to launch faster than was safely feasible to start having paying passengers sooner.
That said, New Shepard has flown 18 times since 2015 and the company has recovered both the capsule and booster on all but one occasion. That happened due to a hydraulics issue on the first flight, NS1, which prevented the booster from landing as planned.
Blue Origin uses its RSS First Step (RSS is short for Reusable Space Ship) for crewed flights. A different New Shepard capsule, called RSS H.G. Wells, is used for uncrewed science flights.
Where does Blue Origin launch New Shepard from?
Blue Origin launches from a remote area of the West Texas desert, roughly 25 miles from the town of Van Horn. The facility is called Launch Site One and is highly restricted during launches; even nearby State Highway 54 typically does not allow the public, and only select media can go on site.
You can view the facilities in a short tour video Blue Origin previously released. If you get the chance to pay for a flight, though, customers can visit the spacecraft and learn about the nearby support facilities, according to the video.
When could I launch to space with Blue Origin?
Blue Origin has a spot on its website to get in line for future flights, but its schedule and pricing is not yet available. The company likely has a backlog of high-profile passengers to run through first.
Virgin Galactic flights retail now for $450,000 apiece and stratospheric balloon provider World View (which does not reach space but does allow passengers to see the Earth’s curvature) plans to start flying customers for $50,000 a seat in 2024, if the schedule holds.
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