Blue Origin Delays New Shepard Launch Scheduled for Friday

NS-21 spaceflight participants. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — During our final vehicle check-outs, we observed one of New Shepard’s back-up systems was not meeting our expectations for performance. In an abundance of caution, we will be delaying the NS-21 launch originally scheduled for Friday. Stay tuned for further updates.

Blue Origin previously announced the NS-21 mission spaceflight participants will include: investor and NS-19 Astronaut Evan Dick; electrical engineer and former NASA test lead Katya Echazarreta; business jet pilot and Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding; civil production engineer Victor Correa Hespanha; adventurer and Dream Variation Ventures co-founder Jaison Robinson; and explorer and co-founder of private equity firm Insight Equity Victor Vescovo, Commander, USN (Ret.). Katya will become the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly to space, and she will be flying as part of Space for Humanity’s sponsored Citizen Astronaut Program. Victor Correa Hespanha will be the second Brazilian to fly to space.

New Shepard Mission NS-21 to Fly Six Customer Astronauts, Including First Mexican-Born Woman to Visit Space

NS-21 spaceflight participants. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the crew flying on its NS-21 mission will include: investor and NS-19 Astronaut Evan Dick; electrical engineer and former NASA test lead Katya Echazarreta; business jet pilot and Action Aviation Chairman Hamish Harding; civil production engineer Victor Correa Hespanha; adventurer and Dream Variation Ventures co-founder Jaison Robinson; and explorer and co-founder of private equity firm Insight Equity Victor Vescovo, Commander, USN (Ret.). Katya will become the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly to space, and she will be flying as part of Space for Humanity’s sponsored Citizen Astronaut Program. Victor Correa Hespanha will be the second Brazilian to fly to space.

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Space For Humanity to Send its First Ever Citizen Astronaut to Experience the Overview Effect Aboard Blue Origin’s Next New Shepard Flight

Katya Echazarreta Will Join Five Other Crew Members in Life-Changing Journey As Space For Humanity’s First Citizen Astronaut Ambassador and First Mexican-Born Woman to Visit Space

Katya Echazarreta will join five other crew members in life-changing journey as Space For Humanity’s first Citizen Astronaut Ambassador and first Mexican-Born woman to visit space.

DENVER (Space For Humanity PR) — Today, Space For Humanity (S4H), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced its selection committee has chosen Katya Echazarreta to become the organization’s first ever citizen astronaut ambassador. Katya will become the first Mexican-born female to fly to space when she flies aboard Blue Origin’s NS-21 flight.

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Virgin Galactic Delays Start of Commercial Service to 2023, Loses $93 Million

VSS Unity in flight on July 11, 2021. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s quarterly reports have fallen into a familiar pattern since the company went public 2.5 years ago. Optimistic talk about past and future progress is mixed in with a large net loss and another delay in the start of commercial service that was originally forecast to begin back in 2007.

Richard Branson’s space tourism company didn’t fail to disappoint on Thursday. The net loss for Q1 2022 was $93 million, which was higher than Q4 2021 net loss of $81 million but less than the $130 million loss for the first quarter of 2021.

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Richard Branson Gets His Astronaut Wings, Aims to Eliminate Asterisk* Next Time

Unity 22 crew: Michael Masucci, Colin Bennett, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla, David Mackay and Beth Moses at the 37th Space Symposium. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
  • Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
  • FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.

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Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

Bezos Got Astronaut Wings, Amazon Got a Union

Jeff Bezos

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos and the billionaire founders of other human spaceflight companies like to talk about how sending the rich and famous and just plain rich to space will change the world. On Friday, it did. But, not in the way the Amazon founder thought.

“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going up to space, because while he was up there, we were organizing a union,” ex-Amazon worker Christian Smalls said after workers at a Staten Island fulfillment center voted to form the company’s first union.

The vote came two years almost to the day that Smalls led a walkout of the warehouse on March 30, 2020, to protest what he and other workers called inadequate measures to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Smalls was fired for his effort, and later led the unionization drive.

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Blue Origin Completes 4th New Shepard Flight with Passengers

New Shepard NS-20 spaceflight participants. Pictured from left to right: Gary Lai, Jim Kitchen, Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle, Marc Hagle, and Dr. George Nield. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin successfully completed its fourth human spaceflight and 20th overall flight for New Shepard. The astronaut manifest included: Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle, Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, Gary Lai, and Dr. George Nield. 

“Congratulations to our astronauts on today’s mission above the Kármán Line,” said Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President of New Shepard for Blue Origin. “We had the honor of safely flying this crew of six – each person with their own story of mentorship and passion for human spaceflight. We’re looking forward to many more flights this year, and we’re grateful to our astronaut customers for their trust in this amazing team.”  

Blue Origin is planning more crewed and payload flights throughout 2022 and beyond. If you are interested in flying on New Shepard, visit Blue Origin’s website.  

Customers can now purchase commemorative merchandise from today’s mission on the Blue Origin Shop

Former Top Federal Regulator to Fly on Unregulated Spaceship

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first three passenger flights of Blue Origin’s New Shepard have been long on symbolism. On the first one, Jeff Bezos invited Wally Funk, who in 1960 was one of 13 women who underwent the same medical checks as the Original Seven Mercury astronauts. NASA wasn’t accepting female pilots at the time, so Funk had to wait 51 years to reach space.

New Shepard’s second flight included starship Capt. James T. Kirk, or more precisely, the actor who played the “Star Trek” captain, William Shatner. The third flight had Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of America’s first astronaut to fly to space, who launched aboard a vehicle named after her father, Alan.

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New Shepard’s Chief Architect to Join Suborbital Flight Next Week

Gary Lai in front of a New Shepard capsule on April 14, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the sixth crew member joining New Shepard’s 20th mission will be Blue Origin’s Gary Lai, New Shepard Chief Architect. Gary joins the previously announced crew, which includes Marty Allen, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield.

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SNL Star Pete Davidson Drops Out as Blue Origin Delays New Shepard Launch

Credit: New Shepard

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin’s 20th flight of New Shepard has shifted to Tuesday, March 29. Pete Davidson is no longer able to join the NS-20 crew on this mission. We will announce the sixth crew member in the coming days.

This mission is the fourth human flight for the New Shepard program and the 20th in its history.  

Live launch coverage begins on BlueOrigin.com at T-60 minutes from Launch Site One in West Texas. 

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SpaceKids Global Founder Takes Blue Origin Flight to Space to Inspire Millions of Kids

New Shepard NS-20 spaceflight participants. (Credit: Blue Origin)

WINTER PARK, Fla. (SpaceKids Global PR) — SpaceKids Global is proud to announce founder Sharon Hagle will take her first flight into space on March 23 as a member of the fourth crewed flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard. The 11-minute flight will take the six-person crew 62 miles above earth, traveling over three times the speed of sound to float weightless for several minutes. Joining Hagle on the flight will be her husband, Marc Hagle, making them the first married couple to fly to space on a commercial vehicle. 

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Saturday Night Live Star Pete Davidson, Dr. George Nield to Fly on Blue Origin’s 20th Mission

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the crew flying on its upcoming NS-20 flight on March 23 will include Marty Allen, Pete Davidson, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield. 

This mission is the fourth human flight for the New Shepard program and the 20th in its history.  

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