GMA Co-anchor Michael Strahan, Alan Shepard’s Daughter to Fly to Space with 4 Others on Blue Origin’s New Shepard Vehicle

Upper left to right: Lane Bess, Cameron Bess, Evan Dick; Lower left to right: Dylan Taylor, Laura Shepard Churchley, Michael Strahan. (Credit: Blue Origin)

New Shepard’s 19th mission will be the first to carry a full manifest of six astronauts to space.

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the crew of its upcoming NS-19 flight on December 9 will include two honorary guests and four paying customers. Guests include Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly to space. The four customers include space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and Cameron Bess. Lane and Cameron Bess will become the first parent-child pair to fly in space. 

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New Shepard Spaceflight Participant Glen de Vries Dies in Plane Crash

Entrepreneur Glen de Vries, who rode to space with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle on Oct. 13, was killed in the crash of a small plane in New Jersey on Thursday.

Media reports say de Vries died in the crash of a single-engine Cessna 172 near a state park in Lake Kermah, Hampton Township. New Jersey aviation company owner Thomas Fischer also died in the crash.

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired,” Blue Origin tweeted.

De Vries, 49, was vice chairman of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, parent corporation of Medidata Solutions. DeVries co-founded Medidata.

De Vries and Shatner flew to suborbital space with Planet Labs Co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin Vice President of Operations Audrey Powers. The flight, launched from the company’s west Texas base, reached an altitude of 107 km (66.5 miles) and lasted 10 minutes 17 seconds.

Artemis: The Good, the Bad and the Well, Yeah

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and top officials provided an update on the Artemis program on Tuesday, delivering the not unexpected news that the space agency will not meet its deadline of landing a man and the first woman of color at the south pole of the moon in 2024. Instead, the landing will be delayed until at least 2025.

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Solstar Space Opens New Crowdfunding Campaign After Oversubscribed Seed Round in Q1 2021

SANTA FE, N.M., November 9, 2021 (Solstar Space PR) – Solstar Space, the company making persistent space-based communications available, announced that it has opened a new regulation crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder. Solstar is continuing the development and delivery of suborbital and orbital communications systems for humans, payloads, IoT sensors, and spacecraft. 

“As space becomes increasingly congested, space-based communications systems are crucial,” says M. Brian Barnett, Founder and CEO, Solstar Space. “Connectivity is challenging during suborbital and orbital missions. We are designing communications solutions that make using your smartphone in space as easy as it is on Earth. Connecting people and spacecraft to resources in space and on the ground is essential for safety, and for extending space exploration, space medicine, monitoring human performance, and on orbit communications. We are continuing the development and engineering of these important solutions,” explains Barnett. 

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Bezos Ends Challenge to NASA Lunar Lander Award to SpaceX

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos tweeted yesterday that he accepted a court’s dismissal of the company’s challenge to NASA’s decision to award a single lunar lander contract SpaceX. He wished the space agency and rival company full success in landing two astronauts on the moon.

NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop the Human Landing System in April. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) rejected protests from Blue Origin and Dynetics in July. Bezos’ company subsequently appealed in court.

Video: Tom Hanks Turned Down Bezos Invite to Fly to Space

Video Caption: Tom talks about doing a talk show again, being the only human in his movie “Finch,” acting with a dog named Seamus, the idea of going to space, hosting a 60’s radio show called Songs from the Back of the Station Wagon, doing a lot of local radio morning shows at the beginning of his career, the passing of his dear friend Peter Scolari, and he shares one of his favorite scenes from their time working together on “Bosom Buddies.”

Editor’s Note: The segment about space starts at 5:25.

NASA Statement on Court’s Dismissal of Blue Origin Lawsuit on Human Landing System Award

Artist concept of the SpaceX Starship on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA was notified Thursday that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s bid protest, upholding NASA’s selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander. NASA will resume work with SpaceX under the Option A contract as soon as possible.

In addition to this contract, NASA continues working with multiple American companies to bolster competition and commercial readiness for crewed transportation to the lunar surface. There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program, including a call in 2022 to U.S. industry for recurring crewed lunar landing services

Through Artemis missions, NASA will lead the world in landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, conduct extensive operations on and around the Moon, and get ready for human missions to Mars.

Blue Origin Lawsuit Over Human Landing System Dismissed

Blue Moon lunar lander (Credit: Blue Origin)

UPI reports that Federal Claims Court judge Richard Hertling has dismissed Blue Origin’s lawsuit seeking to overturn NASA’s award of a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to develop a lander to return astronauts to the lunar surface.

Hertling’s dismissal order cited a sealed opinion that he signed. The order said the court wants the parties to the lawsuit to propose redactions to the opinion by Nov. 18 so the document can be publicly released.

This dismissal was the second defeat in Blue Origin’s effort to overturn the award. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) rejected the company’s appeal in July.

Blue Origin has argued that NASA unfairly evaluated its $5.9 billion bid. The company also claimed the space agency failed to properly evaluate the risks of SpaceX’s plan to adapt its Starship vehicle to serve as the lunar lander.

Blue Origin’s lawsuit had led to a freeze in work by SpaceX and NASA on the human lander. The space agency said the work will now resume in a statement issued on Thursday.

Blue Origin has unsuccessfully campaigned for NASA to award a second contract. Company founder Jeff Bezos said the company would be willing to reduce its cost by $2 billion to make the bid more affordable.

NASA has defended its decision by saying it did not have enough funding to award two contracts and still meet a goal to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. The space agency asked for $3.2 billion to fund the lander last year, but Congress appropriated only $850 million.

NASA has funded SpaceX through development of the lander and a demonstration flight that will land two astronauts on the surface. The space agency will open competition for future missions.

Blue Origin Eyes UAE as Possible Launch Site

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which carried payloads supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, lands on the pad in West Texas on Aug. 26, 2021. NASA’s Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR), which tests technology to convert trash and human waste generated during spaceflight into useful gases, was a part of the 17th New Shepard mission. (Credits: Blue Origin)

The National reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is eyeing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for launches of its New Shepard suborbital crew system.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of advanced development programmes for Blue Origin, said the UAE was an “obvious choice” for a spaceport and that it was looking to expand its launch sites from the current one in El Paso, Texas.

“Now that we are operational for tourism, the next thing we are looking at is other locations around the planet to establish launch and landing sites for New Shepard,” he said.

“It’s an obvious place to look here. All we really need is some desert. One of the endearing qualities of the West Texas desert is that it is hard to get to the El Paso airport. You have to drive for a couple of hours and it is in the middle of nowhere.

“A couple of nights ago I slept over in Sharjah and did some stargazing in the desert. It was only 30 minutes away from Dubai, so I think it’s very promising to think about areas here.”

Virgin Galactic is also eyeing the UAE for flights of its suborbital SpaceShipTwo crew vehicle. The government of Abu Dhabi invested $390 million into Richard Branson’s space company.

Blue Origin Signs Long-Term Agreements With Four Kansas Companies to Support New Glenn Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle and Engine Programs

New Glenn on the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Multi-year contracts showcase Greater Wichita region’s world-class manufacturers and historic leadership in aerospace innovation

WICHITA, Kan. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin announced today that it has signed multi-year contracts with four Greater Wichita area companies: Accurus Aerospace Wichita, C.E. Machine Company Inc, Harlow Aerostructures LLC, and Orizon Aerostructures, LLC. These contracts will support Blue Origin’s engine programs as well as New Glenn, Blue Origin’s reusable heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle designed to support commercial, civil, and national security space missions.

“Accurus Wichita is proud to be a supplier partner with Blue Origin, and we believe these important programs will benefit from the deep aerospace manufacturing expertise in the greater Wichita area,” said Larry Johnson, President and General Manager of Accurus Aerospace Wichita, LLC.

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Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station Promotional Video

Video Caption: Blue Origin and Sierra Space have announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

Designed to open multiple new markets in space, Orbital Reef will provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on orbit. This unique destination will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost competitive end-to-end services they need including space transportation and logistics, space habitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew. The station will start operating in the second half of this decade.

Learn more at OrbitalReef.com

Blue Origin, Sierra Space and Partners Unveil Plans for Orbital Reef Commercial Space Station

Orbital Reef commercial space station (Credit: Orbital Reef)

New Orbital Destination Opens Up Space For Business And Travel, Creating New
Ecosystem

KENT, Wash., October 25, 2021 (Blue Origin/Sierra Space PR) – Blue Origin and Sierra Space today announced plans for Orbital Reef, a commercially developed, owned, and operated space station to be built in low Earth orbit. The station will open the next chapter of human space exploration and development by facilitating the growth of a vibrant ecosystem and business model for the future. Orbital Reef is backed by space industry leaders and teammates including Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

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Stucky Turns Blue: Joins Jeff Bezos’ Space Company After Departure From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Mark Stucky, whom Virgin Galactic demoted as its director of flight test in May and fired two months later, has joined Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company, CNN reports.

Stucky said he will join Blue Origin’s “Advanced Development Programs” team, where he said in a statement to CNN that he will “do my best to contribute to [CEO Jeff Bezos’] amazing vision of humans not just having a continuous presence in space but truly becoming a space-faring species.”

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