Blue Origin’s sixth manned space flight is in the books.
The company New Shepard suborbital vehicle carried six people to the final frontier this morning (Aug. 4), including several spaceflight firsts.
New Shepard took off from Blue Origin’s Site in West Texas at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT) and returned to Earth about 10 minutes later. Although the mission was short, the crew members left with memories that will last a lifetime.
“Whoah whoah! We will not die. Our poor families,” one passenger joked as the New Shepard vehicle descended safely under its parachutes into the Texas desert.
In pictures: Blue Origin’s first passenger launch of New Shepard with Jeff Bezos
The six people on board were Coby Cotton, one of the founders of the popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect; Mario Ferreira and Sara Sabri, who became the first people from Portugal and Egypt, respectively, to reach space; tech pioneer Clint Kelly III; telecommunications executive (not former NFL quarterback) Steve Young; and Vanessa O’Brien.
NS-22 made O’Brien the first woman to complete the “extreme explorer trifecta,” according to a Blue Origin Mission Statement (opens in new tab). She has now reached space, climbed the highest mountain in the world (Mount Everest) and descended to the deepest point in the ocean (the Challenger Deep).
Cotton and Sabri did not have to pay for their transportation today; their seats were sponsored by non-profit organizations MoonDAO and Space for Humanity, respectively.
MoonDAO wants to decentralize access to space with the long-term goal of creating a “self-sustaining, self-governing colony on the moon to act as a starting point for humanity to explore space,” according to to the organization’s website (opens in new tab). Cotton won a MoonDAO contest to board the NS-22.
Space for humanity (opens in new tab) working to increase our species’ access to space. Part of the organization’s strategy includes sponsoring “citizen astronauts,” a group of extraordinary people who will do everything in their power to share with those of us who have never left Earth the life-changing perspective that spaceflight brings. give. Sabri is the second civilian astronaut to fly with Blue Origin, after Catia Ehazareta, a crew member who launched on NS-21 in June.
Ferreira, Kelly, Young and O’Brien obviously paid their way into space today. But it is not clear how much they had to pay; Blue Origin does not disclose ticket prices for New Shepard. For comparison, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main competitor in the suborbital space tourism industry, currently charges $450,000 for a seat on its VSS Unity space plane. (VSS Unity has flown into space four times, but is not yet fully operational.)
You can read more about all six of today’s astronauts in our History of NS-22 crew members.
NS-22 was the sixth human spaceflight for Blue Origin. The first, in July 2021, sent the founder of the company Jeff Bezos into space with his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and student Oliver Damon. New Shepard completed two more crewed flights in 2021 and has already flown three of them in 2022.
The New Shepard is a fully automated combination rocket and reusable capsule. The rocket returns to Earth for a vertical powered landing near the launch site and the capsule descends under parachutes shortly thereafter. Passengers on board the vehicle can see the curve of the Earth against the blackness of space and experience a few minutes weightlessness.
Mike Wall is the author of “There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).