Science

Blue Origin launches 6 people as part of the company’s 6th space tourism mission

Blue Origin’s sixth manned spaceflight is planned in the books.

This morning (August 4), the New Shepard suborbital vehicle carried six people to the last frontier, including several people who made their first space flight.

New Shepard lifted off from the Blue Origin site in West Texas at 9:58 a.m. EST (13:58 GMT) and returned to Earth about 10 minutes later. Although the mission was short, the crew members left with memories of a lifetime.

“Uuuu! We are not going to die. Our poor families,” one passenger joked as the New Shepard safely parachuted into the Texas wilderness.

Pictured: Blue Origin’s first New Shepard passenger launch with Jeff Bezos

Six people were on board: Coby Cotton, co-founder of the popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect; Mario Ferreira and Sarah Sabri, who became the first Portuguese and Egyptian people, respectively, to reach space; technology pioneer Clint Kelly III; telecommunications executive (non-former NFL quarterback) Steve Young; and Vanessa O’Brien.

According to Blue Origin’s mission description, NS-22 made O’Brien the first woman ever to complete the “Extreme Explorer Trio”. (will open in a new tab). Now she has reached space, climbed the highest mountain in the world (Everest) and descended to the deepest point in the ocean (Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean).

Today Cotton and Sabri did not have to pay for the trip; their seats were sponsored by the nonprofits MoonDAO and Space for Humanity, respectively.

According to the organization’s website, MoonDAO wants to decentralize access to space with the long-term goal of creating a “self-sustaining, self-governing colony on the Moon that will be the starting point for human space exploration.” (will open in a new tab). Cotton won the MoonDAO contest to get on board the NS-22.

Space for humanity (will open in a new tab) working to expand our species’ access to space. Part of the organization’s strategy includes sponsoring “citizen astronauts,” a group of extraordinary individuals who will go out of their way to share with those of us who have never left Earth the life-changing perspective that space travel provides. Sabri is the second civilian astronaut to fly with Blue Origin, after Katya Ehazarreta, a member of the crew that launched NS-21 in June.

Ferreira, Kelly, Young and O’Brien apparently paid for their own space flight today. But it is clear how much they had to shell out; Blue Origin did not disclose ticket prices for New Shepard. By 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 story of the NS-22 crew members.

NS-22 was Blue Origin’s sixth manned space flight. The first, in July 2021, sent company founder Jeff Bezos into space along with his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and student Oliver Damen. New Shepard has completed two more crewed flights in 2021 and has already completed three of them in 2022.

New Shepard is a reusable, fully automated combination of rocket and capsule. The rocket returns to Earth for a vertical landing near the launch pad, and the capsule parachutes down shortly thereafter. Passengers aboard the ship will see the curve of the Earth against the blackness of space and experience several minutes of weightlessness.

Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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