blue origin sent the first Mexican-born woman and first crypto-crowdfunded crew member into space today, marking the fifth crewed suborbital flight for Jeff Bezos’ space venture.
In addition to the first, there was a “second”: the first Blue Origin customer to make a trip to space again.
The New Shepard spacecraft lifted off from Blue Origin Launch Site 1 in West Texas at 8:26 a.m. CT (6:26 a.m. PT), sending the crew to a maximum altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) above the sea level – beyond the 100-kilometer Karman Line which marks the internationally accepted boundary of outer space.
As New Shepard’s reusable booster returned to an airstrip, the crew enjoyed a few minutes of weightlessness and an astronaut’s view of Earth. Just over 10 minutes after launch, the New Shepard crew capsule made a parachute-assisted landing in the middle of Texas pastures.
Blue Origin’s flights tend to feature historic angles – starting with the first crewed flight, which took place on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. As we approach today’s flight, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke relayed a message to Mission Control space pilots.
“Godspeed,” Duke told them. “I know you are going to live an exciting adventure, like I did 50 years ago.”
Katia Echazarreta, an electrical engineer who is a co-host of the YouTube series “Netflix IRL,” made history as the first Mexican-born spacewoman. She is also the first person to fly thanks to Space for Humanitya philanthropic enterprise that sponsors worthy people for spaceflight.
Before the launch, Echazarreta recorded an inspirational message in Spanish. “I want to dedicate this space flight to my country and to the entire Latin American community,” she said. “My wish is that you see this mission, believe in yourself, and know that you can be next.”
After the mission, Echazarreta said she was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing Earth from high above. “Even now, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes,” she told reporters. “As soon as I looked at our planet, I had a single tear rolling down my face.”
Echazaretta – whose flight was sponsored by donors including Dylan Taylor, the founder of Space for Humanity and a Blue Origin Space Thief himself – said she now felt compelled to pay him.
“Growing up, one of the things I heard the most was that this dream wasn’t realistic and it wasn’t for people like us,” she said. “So I think my priority going forward will be to get other people to have that experience. And if I can go with them, great.
Another crew member, Victor Correa Hespanha, became the second Brazilian to fly in space and the first “cryptonaut”. Its seat was sponsored by the Crypto space agency, which is fully funded by the NFT community through proceeds from mint. Hespanha won the lottery trip.
“The best day of my life,” Hespanha said after the flight.
This was the second seed round for Evan Dick, an investor in Dick Holdings LLC who is also an airplane pilot and avid sailor. Dick was one of the crew members on last December’s NS-19 mission, flying alongside the daughter of pioneering Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard.
Dick said it’s hard to explain why he decided to take a second trip to space to people who haven’t had the experience themselves. “Once you’ve seen it for yourself, you want to go back, you want to go longer,” he said. “And so it was like an obvious thing.”
Rounding out the six-person crew, Hamish Harding, president of Action Aviation; Jaison Robinson, the founder of a commercial real estate company called JJM Investments and co-founder of Dream Variations Ventures; and Victor Vescovo, co-founder of Insight Equity, a private equity investment firm.
After the first crewed flight last July, Bezos said Blue Origin had enough demand to sustain nearly $100 million in ticket sales, and the company said it plans to pick up the pace this year to its suborbital launches.
Unlike Virgin Galactic, which released a $450,000 in prize money for his suborbital space travelsBlue Origin negotiates the price of its tickets privately and does not disclose the amount paid by its customers.
This report has been updated with interviews after the flight.