Saturday morning, aerospace company Blue Origin is slated to conduct its fifth tourist flight, sending a crew of six to the edge of space and back out of West Texas. Once again, it’s a flight without any major celebrities on board, as the company transitions into making these quick jaunts to space relatively routine.
The flight, called NS-21, comes just two months after Blue Origin’s last tourist trip on March 31st. That mission sent up five paying customers and one company employee — the first time no big names flew. The Blue Origin employee was actually a last-minute replacement for comedian and actor Pete Davidson, who was originally slated to fly but had to drop out due to scheduling issues when the mission was delayed. Prior to that flight, Blue Origin made a point to have at least one celebrity on board its flights, including GMA anchor Michael Strahan, Star Trek star William Shatner, legendary aviator Wally Funk, and, famously, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos.
There are no household names on this flight, but there are a few notable flyers on this trip. Evan Dick, an engineer and investor, is becoming Blue Origin’s first repeat flyer, having already flown to space on the company’s third crewed mission. And Katya Echazarreta, a STEM communicator and YouTube host, will become the first Mexican-born woman to fly to space. Her seat on the flight is sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit that aims to expand “access to space for all of humanity” by funding tickets on Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights for those who might not otherwise be able to afford them.
Katya Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman to fly to space
Victor Correa Hespanha is also benefitting from a sponsored flight, this one from a group called the Crypto Space Agency. The group of crypto enthusiasts bill themselves as a space agency for “Crypto Nation” and are funding space-related projects by selling NFTs. The first NFT drop offered a chance to fly to space, and Hespanha was randomly selected to take the first flight. The CSA plans to buy more tickets to space for members, “seek first contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence,” and “protect the planet from catastrophic asteroid impacts.”
Also on the flight are Hamish Harding, a jet pilot and chairman of his own business jet brokerage, and Jaison Robinson, an investor, adventurer, and former contestant on the reality TV show, Survivor: Samoa. Lastly there’s Victor Vescovo, who co-founded his own private equity firm and who has dived to the deepest point in the ocean up to 12 times and summited the highest point on each of the seven continents.
The six will be flying on Blue Origin’s suborbital New Shepard rocket, which is designed to launch passengers to an altitude roughly 65 miles beyond the boundary of space. The vehicle takes off from Blue Origin’s launch facility near Van Horn, Texas, carrying customers in a capsule perched on top of the rocket. Once at a certain height, the capsule and rocket separate, and customers experience a few minutes of weightlessness while seeing the curvature of the Earth from space. Eventually, both the rocket and capsule fall back to the ground; the rocket lands upright using its engine while the capsule lands under parachutes.
This upcoming flight was originally supposed to take place on May 20th, but Blue Origin delayed the mission after finding that one of New Shepard’s backup systems “was not meeting our expectations for performance,” the company said. Now, the flight is back on for June 4th, with a launch window currently slated to open 9AM ET. If you’ve seen a New Shepard flight before, this one will look more or less the same as the rest, if all goes well. But, if you still can’t get enough of New Shepard flights, Blue Origin’s coverage starts roughly an hour before takeoff.