June 16, 2024

Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space after two year hiatus

Blue Origin has set to fly adventurers to the final frontier on Sunday for the first time in nearly two years, reigniting competition in the space tourism market after a rocket mishap put its crewed operations on hold.

Six people including Black sculptor and former Air Force pilot Ed Dwight, who was controversially spurned by NASA’s astronaut corps in the 1960s, will blast off at around 8:30 am local time (1330 GMT) from the company’s Launch Site One base in west Texas. 

Dwight — at 90 years, 8 months and 10 days — is set to become the oldest person to go to space, narrowly pipping Star Trek actor William Shatner, who was almost two months younger when he launched with Blue Origin in 2021.

Mission NS-25 is the seventh human flight for the enterprise owned and founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who sees short jaunts on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a stepping stone to greater ambitions, including the development of a full-fledged heavy rocket and lunar lander.

French entrepreneur Sylvain Chiron, one of the crew, told AFP he was most excited about “this sensation of leaving the world of men and seeing the Earth as a whole, from above, without borders, with all its fragility and beauty.”

To date, Blue Origin has flown 31 people aboard New Shepard — a small, fully reusable rocket system named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

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