Suborbital tours provided by Jeff Bezos Blue Origin’s Space Adventure were notable for who flew, but the mission scheduled for launch on Saturday is equally notable for how well some of its crew members manage to fly.
Spaceship, Katia Echazarretais the first beneficiary of Space for Humanity Citizen Astronaut Program, a philanthropic effort that sponsors spaceflight for worthy applicants. Echazarreta, electrical engineer co-host of the YouTube series “Netflix IRL” and member of CBS’ “Mission Unstoppable” team, will be the first woman born in Mexico to reach the final frontier.
In a Instagram postEchazarreta said she was looking forward to discovering the Preview Effect, a broadening of perspective associated with viewing the Earth from space. “I plan to come back ready to continue changing the world,” she wrote.
Another crew member, Victor Correa Hespanha, will be the second Brazilian to fly in space and the first “cryptonaut”. Its seat is sponsored by the Crypto space agency, which is fully funded by the NFT community through proceeds from mint. Hespanha won the lottery trip.
“My first dream is to become a footballer,” he said in a video posted on Twitter. “And the second is to be an astronaut, because I have so many curiosities to explore in the universe.”
Evan Dick, an investor at Dick Holdings LLC, will be the first person to make a second flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft. He was one of the crew members of the NS-19 mission last December, flying alongside the daughter of pioneering Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard.
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.
This will be the fifth crewed suborbital space launch for Blue Origin, which has piloted such luminaries as Star Trek Captain William Shatner, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Bezos himself. Liftoff from the company’s West Texas Launch Site 1 is scheduled for as early as 8 a.m. CT (6 a.m. PT) Saturday, with streaming coverage expected to begin via Blue Origin’s website and Youtube at T-minus-60 minutes.
There is always a chance that weather or technical issues will cause delays. Two weeks ago, Blue Origin canceled a previous launch attempt when engineers determined that one of New Shepard’s backup systems did not meet their performance expectations.
Assuming all goes as planned, New Shepard’s hydrogen booster will send the crew capsule past the 100 kilometer (62 mile) line that marks an internationally accepted boundary for outer space.
Astronauts will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and observe the curved Earth through the capsule’s bay windows. The autonomously controlled booster will land not far from the launch pad, while the capsule will make a parachute-assisted landing in the middle of Texas pastures. The whole journey should take just over 10 minutes.
Unlike Virgin Galactic, which released a $450,000 in prize money for his suborbital space travels, Blue Origin negotiates the price of its tickets privately and does not disclose the amount paid by its customers. But the routes taken by Echazaretta and Hespanha suggest that not everyone will need to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to space.
Although Echazaretta is the first “citizen astronaut” sponsored by Space for Humanity, she is not the first commercial astronaut to have a ticket to space purchased by someone else. Last year, three spaceflights had their orbital fares covered by billionaire Jared Isaacman for the Inspiration4 philanthropic mission.
Saturday’s mission is known as NS-21 because it is New Shepard’s 21st flight (counting uncrewed launches). Here’s the schedule for NS-21, whose launch window opens at 8:00 a.m. CT (6:00 a.m. PT):
- T-minus-7.5 hours: rocket deployment
- T-minus-3 hours: propellant charge
- T-minus-45 minutes: Astronauts head to the range
- T-minus-35 minutes: Capsule penetration
- T-minus-24 minutes: Hatch closed
- T-minus-10 minutes: Last “go” for the launch