Michael Strahan and Alan Shepard’s daughter rocket to the edge of space

The group took off aboard the Blue Origin suborbital space tourism rocket at 9:01 a.m. CT from the company’s launch facility near the rural town of Van Horn, Texas, where Bezos owns a sprawling ranch, and took a 10-minute supersonic flight that reached more than 60 miles above the Earth’s surface before parachuting to a landing.

Strahan emerged beaming from the capsule where he was greeted by Bezos.

“I want to go back,” he said. “The G’s … it’s not a facelift, it’s a facelift. I know what I’ll look like at 85.”

Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, whose father Alan Shepard took a suborbital flight in 1961 and then walked on the moon, traveled alongside investors Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick, and Lane Bess, as well as Bess’s adult son, Cameron Bess, all of them. . that paid customers. Blue Origin said Strahan and Shepard Churchley were “guests of honor,” as was the latest celebrity Blue Origin sent to the edge of space, William Shatner, and they didn’t have to pay for their trip.

This flight marks the first time that Blue Origin has filled all six seats of its New Shepard rocket and capsule, which is named after Alan Shepard. On the company’s two previous flights, including the July flight that sent Bezos himself into space, only four of the seats were occupied.

That means passengers had slightly less leeway than previous customers, especially Strahan, who is six feet five inches tall.

There is a long history of failed attempts to get American journalists into space.  Now, Michael Strahan goes
Strahan announced his plans to join the flight during a segment on Good morning america last month, noticing that Blue Origin measured him for his flight suit and had him try one of the New Shepard capsule seats to make sure it would fit.

Strahan spent 15 seasons in the NFL, all of them with the New York Giants, where he won the Super Bowl with them in 2007. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Going suborbital

The flight followed a similar profile to Shatner and Bezos’ flight before him, spending less time off the ground than it takes most people to get to work in the morning.

Suborbital flight is very different from orbital flight of the kind most of us think of when we think of space flight. Blue Origin’s New Shepard flights are short round-trips, though they travel more than 100 kilometers above Earth, which some scientists consider to be the limit of outer space.

Orbital rockets need to accumulate enough energy to reach at least 17,000 miles per hour, or what is known as orbital velocity, which essentially gives a spacecraft enough energy to continue rotating around Earth rather than being swept away immediately. down by gravity.

Suborbital flights require much less power and speed. That means less time is required for the rocket to burn out, lower temperatures burning the exterior of the spacecraft, less force and compression to tear the spacecraft, and generally less chance of something going seriously wrong.

New Shepard’s suborbital flights reach about three times the speed of sound, about 2,300 miles per hour, and fly straight up until the rocket uses up most of its fuel. The crew capsule then separates from the rocket at the top of the trajectory and briefly continues upward before the capsule nearly hovers at the top of its flight path, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness.

The New Shepard capsule deploys a large column of parachutes to slow its descent to less than 20 miles per hour before hitting the ground.

The panorama

This flight marked the third of what Blue Origin hopes will be many space tourism launches, taking wealthy clients to the edge of space. It could be a line of business that helps fund Blue Origin’s other more ambitious space projects, including the development of a 300-foot-tall rocket powerful enough to put satellites into orbit and a lunar lander.

It’s unclear how much money customers who paid for Saturday’s flight spent for their seats. Blue Origin has not publicly identified the price of the ticket, although the company held an auction earlier this year to sell an additional seat alongside Bezos during their July flight.

The winner of that auction agreed to fork out a whopping $ 28 million for the seat, but that still anonymous person chose not to take the ride just yet. Oliver Daemen, then an 18-year-old whose father was a finalist in the ticket auction, stepped in instead.
Jeff Bezos' rocket company, Blue Origin, to send Michael Strahan to the edge of space

Taylor, who flew with Strahan and Shepard on today’s flight, told CNN Business that he, too, participated in the auction but did not win. However, Blue Origin later came over to offer him a seat. He declined to say how much he ultimately paid for his ticket, noting that Blue Origin asks its passengers to sign confidentiality agreements that prevent customers from talking about certain aspects of the launch.

But Taylor, president and CEO of space investment firm Voyager, has pledged to donate an equivalent amount of money to charities, including donations to organizations that promote access to space for people with disabilities and provide scholarships to women and people of color. in the aerospace industry. .

Taylor wants other wealthy people buying space flights to do something similar, following the decision of billionaire Shift4 CEO Jared Isaacman to take his three-day excursion into space aboard a SpaceX rocket at a charity fundraiser for St. Jude to which Isaacman donated $ 200 million. .

That’s the pattern Taylor hopes everyone will follow. He said he would encourage fellow paying customers on Saturday’s Blue Origin flight to do the same.

“My guess is that $ 300 to $ 400 million will be spent on commercial space flight in the next few years,” Taylor said. “And the people who can afford these tickets can pay for double the ticket, right? I mean, it’s not like they’re putting their bottom dollar to buy a space ticket. So that’s why I want to make the call. to action. “


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