What You Need to Know About This Week’s Blue Origin Launch

Superstar Michael Strahan will be among those aboard the latest spaceflight.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is set to conduct its next manned space flight this weekend. Here are four things you need to know about its NS-19 mission:

1. The Crew

Blue Origin’s next New Shepard crew consists of four paying customers and two noteworthy honorary guests—Laura Shepard Churchley and Michael Strahan.

Churchley is the eldest daughter of the first American to fly to space and fifth person to walk on the moon, Alan Shepard. She serves as chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees.

Two-time Emmy award winner Strahan is Blue Origin’s second honorary guest for the NS-19 mission. He hosts several shows such as “Good Morning America,” “$100,000 Pyramid,” and serves as an analyst for “Fox NFL Sunday.” His stipend from the mission will be donated to The Boys and Girls Club.

The remaining four crew members paid for their flight on NS-19, representing a plethora of different industries.

Dylan Taylor, chairman and CEO of Voyager Space, will join the NS-19 crew. Taylor is also a co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. He was also named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute in 2014 and a Fellow of the Unreasonable Group this year.

Top from left,: Lane Bess, Cameron Bess, and Evan Dick; Bottom from left,: Dylan Taylor, Laura Shepard Churchley, and Michael Strahan. Credit: Blue Origin

ATP-certificated Evan Dick volunteers for Starfighters Aerospace and formerly served as senior vice president for D.E. Shaw and managing director of Highbridge Capital Management. His charity efforts include the Darwin Foundation and Population Relief International Corp.

Founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory, Lane Bess is a philanthropist who will fly this weekend. Bess has previously helped create two major cybersecurity companies, Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks.

Lastly, Cameron Bess will be joining father Lane onboard NS-19. Cameron works as a content creator, studying computer science and game design at DigiPen Institute for Technology in Washington. Cameron identifies as pansexual and hopes to inspire the LGBTQ+ community.

The Besses will be the first parent-child pair to fly to space.

2. The Rocket

The crew will fly aboard the New Shepard rocket, which will be making its 19th trip to space. The rocket is the namesake of Laura Shepard Churchley’s father.

The completely autonomous rocket will take the passengers to the Kármán line—the internationally-recognized beginning of space.

The spacecraft is propelled by the Blue Engine 3 (BE-3) which is capable of landing itself after each use, slowing its descent to just 5 mph before touchdown. New Shepard is also equipped with drag brakes, aft fins, and landing gear to allow for fine adjustments.

New Shepard NS-18 lifts off from Launch Site One. Credit: Blue Origin

The crew capsule can carry six passengers, with no flight controls on board. New Shepard is classified as a “robotic vehicle” since it runs autonomously. The capsule is also outfitted with extensive safety protocols, giving the astronauts the capability to escape from the rocket at any point during the launch or flight.

3. The Mission

The mission, dubbed NS-19, serves as Blue Origin’s effort toward drastically reducing the cost of spaceflight for future generations.

The company, owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, hopes to return Americans to the moon using its “Blue Moon” lunar lander in the near future.

It comes just two months after actor William Shatner, 90, became the oldest person to go to space when he traveled aboard a Blue Origin flight. He took the title previously held by pilot Wally Funk.  

4. How to Watch

According to Blue Origin, the NS-19 launch is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. ET Saturday. It was originally set for Thursday but was delayed due to high winds. Coverage of the event will begin 90 minutes before liftoff on Blue Origin’s website. The crew will be blasting off from Launch Site One in West Texas, weather permitting.

You can watch it live here on flyingmag.com.

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