Commercial Space Travelers Outnumbered Professional Astronauts in First Half of 2022

Axiom Mission 1 astronauts, left to right, Larry Connor, Mark Pathy, Michael López-Alegría, and Eytan Stibbe. The astronauts are approved by NASA and its international partners for Axiom Space’s first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. (Credits: Chris Gunn – Axiom Space)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 saw more commercial travelers — 16 — launch into space than the 10 professional astronauts who work for government-run space agencies. However, those numbers come with an asterisk or two.

Four of the 14 astronauts who launched into orbit flew on Axiom Space’s privately funded and operated crew flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Blue Origin launched 12 individuals into space on two flights of the company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

The other 10 astronauts who launched to ISS and the Tiangong space station worked fulltime for NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), China Manned Space Agency, or Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation. SpaceX flew American and European astronauts to ISS on the company-owned Crew Dragon spacecraft under a NASA contract. The Russians and Chinese flew aboard government-owned and operated spacecraft.

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Space For Humanity Will Send First Egyptian to Space Aboard Blue Origin’s NS-22 Flight

Sara Sabry is selected as Space For Humanity’s second Citizen Astronaut and will fly on NS-22, making her the first Egyptian to ever visit Space. (Credit: Space for Humanity)

DENVER, July 22, 2022 (Space for Humanity PR) — Today, Space For Humanity (S4H), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced its selection committee has chosen Sara Sabry to become the organization’s second sponsored Citizen Astronaut. Sara will become the first Egyptian to fly to space when she flies aboard Blue Origin’s NS-22 flight.

Sara, 29, is an Egyptian mechanical and biomedical engineer and founder of Deep Space Initiative (DSI), a nonprofit which aims to increase accessibility for space research. Sara became Egypt’s first female analog astronaut in 2021, when she was selected to complete a two week analog Moon mission, which simulated the extreme conditions astronauts experience in Space. She will join five other crew members including Coby Cotton, Mario Ferreira, Vanessa O’Brien, Clint Kelly III, and Steve Young aboard New Shepard to experience the cognitive shift of the Overview Effect and incorporate that new found perspective into a social impact project with the support of S4H’s Citizen Astronaut Program (CAP).

“When we dare to dream big, we achieve things deemed impossible, we break boundaries, write history, and set new challenges for the future,” said Sabry. “I am incredibly excited that Space For Humanity has offered me this opportunity and I am honored to be representing Egypt in Space for the first time. My ancestors have always dreamt big and achieved the impossible, and I hope to bring that back. This is just the beginning.”

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First Egyptian and Portuguese Astronauts to join Dude Perfect Cofounder on New Shepard’s 22nd Flight

NS-22 spaceflight participants (Credit: Blue Origin)

SEATTLE, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the crew flying on its NS-22 mission will include Dude Perfect cofounder Coby Cotton, Portuguese entrepreneur Mário Ferreira, British-American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien, technology leader Clint Kelly III, Egyptian engineer Sara Sabry, and telecommunications executive Steve Young. Sara will become the first person from Egypt to fly to space; Mário will become the first from Portugal. Vanessa will become the first woman to reach extremes on land, sea, and air, completing the Explorers’ Extreme Trifecta, a Guinness World Record.

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Suborbital Spaceflight by the Numbers

New Shepard launches on its 21st flight of the program on June 4, 2022. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Part II of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first half of 2022 was a busy period in suborbital space with 23 launches conducted that did not involve tests of ballistic missiles or defensive systems. Twelve people flew above the Karman line, new boosters and space technologies were tested, and the first commercial suborbital launch was conducted from Australia. And some science was done.

We covered the above mentioned flights in depth in a story published on Tuesday. In this piece we’ll look a broader look at who launched what, when, where, why and on what.

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A Busy Six Months as Suborbital Spaceflight Comes Into its Own

New Shepard lands after the NS-21 flight. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

Part I of II

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For decades, the suborbital launch sector was largely a backwater. Militaries tested ballistic missiles, scientists conducted experiments, and engineers tested new technologies. A sounding rocket is small potatoes compared with orbital rocket launches and the glamor of human spaceflight. Few people paid much attention.

All that has changed in recent years as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and their billionaire owners — Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos — started launching themselves and others on suborbital joyrides. Startups have been conducting suborbital flight tests of new orbital launch vehicles designed to serve the booming smalls satellite market. Suborbital has become a much more interesting sector.

This year has been no exception. The first half of 2022 saw Blue Origin send 12 people into space on two New Shepard flights, a Chinese company conduct six launches in a program to develop aa suborbital spaceplane and hypersonic transport, South Korea and Iran perform flight tests of three different smallsat launchers, Germany test technologies for reusable rockets, and first-ever commercial launch from Australia. And, a great deal of science was done.

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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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Space For Humanity Announces $1.25 Million Matching Campaign to Send More People to Space

Space For Humanity

DENVER, January 26, 2022 (Space for Humanity PR) — Today, Space For Humanity (S4H), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, announced the launch of a new matching campaign to support the organization’s mission to expand access to space for all humanity. A generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has pledged $1.25 million to support our “To Space” matching grant campaign.

The funds from this campaign will further support the organization’s Humanity Missions, which will sponsor citizen astronauts to visit space and experience the Overview Effect: the cognitive shift in awareness that occurs when looking back at the Earth from space. Space For Humanity has received more than 4,000 applications since the organization’s founding (2017) from leaders from every walk of life including over 100 different countries and nations around the world.

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Omaze and Virgin Galactic Announce Winner of Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Space

Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s Omaze sweepstakes raised an anticipated $1.7M in grants to support Space for Humanity’s mission to democratize space travel

LOS ANGELES, C.A., November 24, 2021 (Omaze PR) — Today, Omaze, the charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha S. from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight. Born and raised in Antigua, Keisha is a health and energy coach who is passionate about empowering women to live their best lives. She has always had a lifelong dream of going to space, and hopes to bring her daughter, an astrophysics student, as her guest on this incredible journey.

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