Lauren Sánchez is best known for her TV and news appearances — and a relationship with Jeff Bezos (that had a few publicly dramatic turns) — but now, she could soon be known as the first person to lead an all-woman space mission on Blue Origin. In an interview with WSJ. Magazine, Sánchez reveals that she’s wanted to fly on earlier missions but Bezos is now encouraging her and thrilled to put together the female crew.
Sánchez isn’t saying who the five women are who will be joining her, something that will be revealed closer to the planned early 2024 flight. “It’s going to be women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send,” Sánchez tells the Journal. And Bezos won’t be getting an exception to attend her flight. “I’m going to have to hold him back,” Sánchez said. “He’ll be cheering us all on from the sidelines.”
So far, Blue Origin crewed missions have been, for all intents and purposes, recreational flights. The Jeff Bezos-founded private space company has also done missions for NASA that include taking up scientific equipment. SpaceX, its main competitor founded by Elon Musk, is running many manned flights with real astronauts, and last year, SpaceX did its first civilian flight.
Blue Origin has launched six crewed missions to space dating back to July 20th, 2021. The first New Shepard flight carried Bezos himself along with his brother and two others. Subsequent missions put Star Trek actor William Shatner into space, followed by another with former NFL player Michael Strahan and others — including paying customers.
The fourth New Shepard crewed launch, on March 31st last year, was supposed to have actor and comedian Pete Davidson as an “honorary guest” on board. Davidson was apparently not able to attend after the flight date was changed — a great reminder for all the women who will be flying in 2024 to clear their schedule for the whole year.
Correction February 2, 8:16AM ET: A previous version of this article stated there are a total of four crewed missions to date on Blue Origin and that the last one was on March 31st. There are a total of six crewed flights, with two occurring after March 31st. We regret the error.