Aerospace company Blue Origin is scheduled to operate its fifth tourist flight Saturday morning, sending a crew of six to the edge of space and back from West Texas. Once again, it’s a celebrity-free flight as the company moves toward making these quick trips into space relatively routine.
The flight, named NS-21, comes just two months after Blue Origin’s last tourist trip on March 31. That mission sent five paying customers and one company employee upstairs — the first time no big names were flying. The Blue Origin employee was actually a last-minute replacement for comedian and actor Pete Davidson, who was originally scheduled to fly but had to pull out due to scheduling issues when the mission was delayed. Prior to this flight, Blue Origin made a point of having at least one celebrity on board its flights, including GMA presenter Michael Strahan, star trek Star William Shatner, legendary aviator Wally Funk and famous company 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, will become Blue Origin’s first repeat flyer, having flown into space on the company’s third manned mission. And Katya Echazarreta, STEM communicator and YouTube host, will be the first Mexican-born woman to fly into space. Your seat on the flight is sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand “access to space for all mankind” by funding tickets for Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic flights for those who otherwise they might not be able to afford them.
Victor Correa Hespanha is also benefiting from a sponsored flight, this time by a group called the Crypto Space Agency. The group of crypto enthusiasts bill themselves as the space agency for “Crypto Nation” and funds space-related projects through the sale of NFTs. The first NFT launch provided the opportunity to fly into space, and Hespanha was randomly chosen for the first flight. The CSA plans to buy more space tickets for members, “seek first contact with extraterrestrial 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 agency, and Jaison Robinson, an investor, adventurer and former contestant on the reality TV show. Survivor: Samoa. Finally, there is Victor Vescovo, who co-founded his own private equity firm and who has dived to the deepest point of the ocean up to 12 times and scaled the highest point on each of the seven continents.
The six will fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket, which is designed to take passengers to an altitude of about 65 miles beyond the limit of space. The vehicle launches from Blue Origin’s launch facility near Van Horn, Texas and carries customers in a capsule on top of the rocket. Above a certain altitude, the capsule and rocket separate and customers experience a few minutes of weightlessness while viewing the curvature of the earth from space. Eventually, both the rocket and capsule fall back to the ground; The rocket lands with its engine upright while the capsule lands under parachutes.
This upcoming flight was originally scheduled to take place on May 20, but Blue Origin delayed the mission after determining that one of New Shepard’s backup systems “did not meet our performance expectations,” the company said. Now it’s flying again on June 4th, with a launch window currently scheduled for 9am ET. If you’ve seen a New Shepard flight before, this one will look pretty much the same as the others if all goes well. But if you still can’t get enough of New Shepard flights, Blue Origin’s coverage begins about an hour before departure.