Michael Strahan and the daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard launch to area with Blue Origin

Sixty years after her father turned the primary American in area, Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, rocketed out of the decrease environment Saturday, becoming a member of ABC TV persona Michael Strahan and 4 others for an exhilarating 10-minute climb to area and again.

Strapped into Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, a spacecraft named after the primary American in area, the passengers blasted off from the corporate’s West Texas launch website at 10:01 a.m. EST, capturing skyward atop a hydrogen-fueled single-stage rocket.

The launching got here two days later than deliberate due to excessive winds aloft, nevertheless it was clean crusing Saturday because the stubby rocket roared away atop a jet of flaming exhaust, accelerating to a most velocity of two,244 mph.

Blue Origin launch
Blue Origin’s third crewed New Shepard sub-orbital flight will get underway from the corporate’s West Texas launch website, kicking off a 10-minute up-and-down journey to the sting of area, on December 11, 2021.

Blue Origin

Launched from the booster about two minutes and 45 seconds after blastoff, Churchley, Strahan, aerospace entrepreneurs Evan Dick, Dylan Taylor, Lane Bess and his son Cameron have been all of the sudden weightless, free to unstrap and float concerning the cabin because it coasted upward on a ballistic trajectory.

“Test this out… oh my God!” one of many passengers exclaimed amid laughter and apparent exhilaration, taking within the view of Earth and the black of area via the capsule’s bay home windows.

The spacecraft soared to an altitude of 65.8 miles — comfortably above the internationally acknowledged 62-mile-high “boundary” of area — earlier than arcing over and starting the lengthy plunge again to Earth after about three minutes of weightlessness.

The reusable booster flew itself again to a pinpoint touchdown about eight minutes after takeoff. The crew capsule, descending below three giant parachutes, adopted go well with two minutes later, touching down in a cloud of mud to shut out a 10-minute 13-second flight.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft parachutes again to Earth for a protected touchdown on Saturday, December 11, 2021.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin proprietor Jeff Bezos and restoration personnel have been on the scene in minutes to open the hatch and welcome the crew again to Earth.

“Welcome again, guys,” Bezos stated after opening the hatch. Strahan was first out, smiling, hugging the Amazon founder and greeting his excited household.

“That is the factor, the Gs, it is not a face elevate, it is a face drop!” he joked. “I do know what I’ll appear like at 85.”

Michael Strahan and Jeff Bezos
Former NFL star and ABC TV host Michael Strahan hugs Jeff Bezos after the Amazon and Blue Origin founder offered him with astronaut wings on December 11, 2021.

Blue Origin

He informed Bezos “extra individuals are going to be (drawn to this), it may be arduous to get one other ticket.”

“You’ve got gotta pay for the following one,” Bezos laughed.

The flight mirrored the Freedom 7 mission of Churchley’s father, who rocketed away from Cape Canaveral on Might 5, 1961, on a dramatic 15-minute sub-orbital flight to change into the primary American in area, the second general after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin beat NASA to the punch three weeks earlier.

Shepard went on to stroll on the moon as commander of the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, famously hitting a golf ball throughout a moonwalk.

Churchley informed Bezos she thought of her father’s Mercury flight, tightly strapped right into a cramped capsule with a tiny window whereas she was capable of float freed from her seat and soak up panoramic views of Earth beneath.

“He did not get to get pleasure from any of what I used to be (having fun with),” she informed Bezos. “He was working.”

“It was all enterprise,” Bezos agreed.

“Proper, he needed to do it himself. I went alongside for the journey. … Blue Origin is one of the best.”

Laura Shepard Churchley and Jeff Bezos
Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard — the primary American in area — describes her flight to Blue Origin proprietor Jeff Bezos, himself a spaceflight veteran, on December 11, 2021.

Blue Origin

Churchley and Strahan, a retired Corridor of Fame skilled soccer participant and co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” flew as company of Blue Origin and Bezos.

Their 4 crewmates purchased their tickets for undisclosed quantities. Blue Origin doesn’t focus on pricing and to date, no passengers have volunteered any particulars. However Lane Bess, presumably joking, stated after touchdown, “I’ll do it once more. Get me in line!”

The nineteenth New Shepard mission — NS-19 — was Blue Origin’s third flight with passengers on board, and the primary with a full six-member crew. They known as themselves the “Unique Six,” a play on NASA’s “Unique Seven” Mercury astronauts.

Blue Origin crew
Michael Strahan, Laura Shepard Churchley and their 4 crewmates have a good time with Blue Origin proprietor Jeff Bezos after their flight to area aboard the corporate’s New Shepard spacecraft on Saturday, December 11, 2021.

Blue Origin

Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen took off July 20 on the corporate’s first piloted New Shepard flight. A second passenger launch on October 13 carried actor William Shatner, a Blue Origin govt and two entrepreneurs to area.

“What you could have given me is essentially the most profound expertise I can think about,” Shatner, on the verge of tears, informed Bezos after the flight. “I am so full of emotion about what simply occurred. I simply, it is extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I by no means get well from this, I hope that I can preserve what I really feel now, I do not wish to lose it.”

Saturday’s NS-19 mission was the twenty sixth crewed sub-orbital flight since Alan Shepard’s pioneering Mercury mission and the seventh within the competitors between Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which gives sub-orbital flights aboard a winged spaceplane.

Virgin has launched eight pilots and different firm officers, together with Branson, on 4 flights since December 2018 and plans to start business service subsequent yr. Blue Origin has now launched three crewed flights carrying 14 passengers, together with seven who purchased tickets.

With Saturday’s flight, 609 people have now flown in area. Of that complete, 36 made sub-orbital flights, together with six who additionally flew in orbit, and 41 have flown commercially.

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