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. 

(more…)

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.

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. 

(more…)

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.

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.

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.”

(more…)

A Teary-eyed William Shatner Describes Flying to Space for Real Aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Jeff Bezos pins Blue Origin astronaut wings on actor William Shatner. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Visibly moved to tears, Star Trek actor William Shatner struggled to describe the experience of spaceflight to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after making a suborbital flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. Just extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now, I don’t wanna lose it,” he said.

(more…)

Discovery and Science Channel to Broadcast William Shatner Flight To Space

William Shatner in his flight suit (Credit: Blue Origin)

Space Launch LIVE: Shatner in SpaceAiring Live
on Discovery and Science Channel, Wednesday, October 13, 8:30 -10:30 AM

Discovery and Science Channel brings viewers the highly-anticipated launch of Star Trek star William Shatner as he takes his first flight into space — at the age of 90, soon to be the oldest person to fly to space — on Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a cutting-edge suborbital rocket.

Scheduled for Wednesday after weather delays, the mission, known as NS-18, will launch from Blue Origin’s West Texas site. This will be the second-ever crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin after its inaugural crewed flight launched founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on a 10-minute trip to space and back in July.

William Shatner Flight to Space Postponed to Wednesday

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Due to forecasted winds on Tuesday, October 12, Blue Origin’s mission operations team has made the decision to delay the launch of NS-18 and is now targeting Wednesday, October 13. Liftoff from Launch Site One is currently targeted for 8:30 am CDT / 13:30 UTC on Wednesday. 

As part of today’s Flight Readiness Review, the mission operations team confirmed the vehicle has  met all mission requirements and astronauts began their training today. Weather is the only gating factor for the launch window.

Passengers will include: Star Trek actor William Shatner; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, vice-chairman of Licenses & Healthcare, Dassault Systemes and co-founder of Mediadata; and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin VP of Mission and Flight Operations.

William Shatner to Boldly Go Where No Star Trek Captain Has Gone Before on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced actor William Shatner and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, will fly on board New Shepard NS-18. They will join crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries for the flight which lifts off from Launch Site One on October 12.  

(more…)

NASA Researchers Gain Valuable Data from OSCAR’s Second Flight

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)

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Data from a NASA payload investigating a new method for dealing with trash in space has researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida excited following the Aug. 26 flight test on Blue Origin’s 17th New Shepard mission.

The Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) team watched the launch from a neighboring hill, witnessing liftoff, booster landing, and payload touchdown. Though, as researchers, they became even more energized after landing.

(more…)

FAA Examination of Blue Origin Safety Issues Likely to be Very Narrow

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will examine safety issues about Blue Origin’s crewed suborbital New Shepard vehicle raised by a group of current and former employees in an open letter published on Thursday.

The announcement comes 11 days before four paying customers, one reported to be Star Trek star William Shatner, are scheduled to board New Shepard for a trip to space. While a federal safety review might sound reassuring to these ticket holders, what does it actually mean in practice?

Probably not much.

(more…)