TEXAS — Six people got to experience the joys of zero gravity after they were launched in Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on a sub-orbital spaceflight on Sunday morning.

What You Need To Know

  • The NS-25 mission created six new astronauts

  • 🔻Scroll down to learn more about the New Shepard rocket and crew🔻

  • 🔻Scroll down to watch the launch live🔻

Blue Origin sent its nearly 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket beyond the Kármán line (the internationally established edge of space at 62 miles/100 kilometers) from Launch Site One in West Texas, according to the Washington-state company.

The NS-25 mission’s launch took off at 10:35 a.m. ET after a long hold for teams going over final checks, stated Blue Origin during a live stream. 

It was originally set to launch at 9:30 a.m. ET, but on Sunday morning, Blue Origin stated the launch time would be pushed to 9:52 a.m. ET and then at 10:13 a.m. ET.

Blue Origin did not state the reason for the delays.

Just like SpaceX rockets, the New Shepard is designed to land autonomously, and the booster touched down on a landing pad. Before the stage separation, the rocket booster was going about 2,200 mph/3,541 kph.

After the launch, Blue Origin posted on X some stats on the mission.

The six crew members of NS-25 mission — Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, Gopi Thotakura, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight — were able to unbuckle their seatbelts and enjoyed a few minutes of zero gravity and watching the curve of the globe Earth.

They are now officially astronauts.

After the six were done their out-of-this-world experience, they got back into their seats and buckled in as the spacecraft, named RSS First Step, returned to Earth.

Three parachutes were deployed from the First Step, but only two were fully deployed with the third only partially. Blue Origins claimed the New Shepard spacecraft is designed to land with two.

Once the space capsule did touch the Texan ground, Blue Origin stated that there was confirmation that all six crew members are safe. All six of the newly minted astronauts cheered as they stepped out of the space capsule.

Dwight, who could have been the first Black American astronaut back in the 1960s but on Sunday became the oldest person to go to space at the age of 90, called the experience “fantastic.”

“It was a life-changing experience. Everybody needs to do this,” he said. (Learn more about his history here.)

Thotakura echoed Dwight’s statement.

“It’s not like the movies. It’s really not. You have to see it with your eyes to really, really, really take it in,” he said. “Daddy’s going and everybody else should be go to space.”

The last time New Shepard launched people was in August 2022. Before this mission, there have been six Blue Origin's crewed flights.

About the New Shepard spacecraft and rocket

The capsule can hold up to six people and is named the RSS First Step. The “RSS” stands for “reusable space ship.”

“It represents Blue Origin’s first step towards building the road to space for the benefit of Earth,” said Brett Griffin as he explained to Spectrum News the meaning behind the name.

Griffin’s company, Griffin Communications Group, handles public relations for Blue Origin as well as other companies.  

The capsule itself has six windows for each of the passengers of this mission to look out of as they soar three times the speed of sound, explained Griffin.

The New Shepard’s rocket booster is quite capable, he stated.

“… New Shepard’s BE-3PM engine is fueled by a highly efficient and clean combination of liquid hydrogen and oxygen. During flight, the only byproduct of New Shepard’s engine combustion is water vapor with no carbon emissions,” he claimed.

The stacked reusable vehicle does more than just send guests and paying customers to the edge of space to float around and see the curvature of the Earth.

“Additionally, all the learnings from the New Shepard program are applied to New Glenn, Blue Origin’s orbital launch vehicle, and the Blue Moon lunar lander. Both of these future vehicles leverage New Shepard’s autonomy, guidance, vertical landing architecture, powerful and throttleable liquid engines, and lean operations,” according to Griffin in an email.

Meet the crew

The New Shepard, named after the first American to go to space Alan Shepard, will send six crew members on an 11-minute suborbital journey. All were paying customers.

They are:

Ed Dwight: Before he became known for his sculptures of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and other notable Black figures, President John F. Kennedy picked Dwight in 1961 to enter training at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, which was a pathway to NASA’s Astronaut Corps. While he completed his training two years later, he was not selected for the corps. Griffin stated that Space for Humanity and Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation sponsored Dwight’s seat.

Mason Angel: He is the founder of Industrious Ventures, a venture capital fund. It supports new companies.

Sylvain Chiron: He is the founder of one of France’s largest craft breweries called the Brasserie Mont Blanc.

Kenneth L. Hess: He is both a software engineer and entrepreneur who developed Family Tree Maker, which was bought by Ancestry.com in 2003.

Carol Schaller: A retired CPA, in 2017, “her doctor told her she would likely go blind. She has since traveled to 25 countries around the world, visited Mount Everest Base Camp” among other places, stated Blue Origin.

Gopi Thotakura: He is no stranger to the skies as he is both a pilot and aviator. In fact, he learned to fly before he could drive and is the co-founder of Preserve Life Corp.

Discover more about these six here.

Before this mission, the New Shepard has launched 31 people. All those who have flown must take a two-day astronaut training program that teaches them what they need to know about safe spaceflight.

“The crew learn about New Shepard’s mission profile, safety systems, zero-g protocols, and execute mission simulations,” Griffin stated.

Watch the launch


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