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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Launches First New Shepard Space Crew of 2022

Blue Origin
  • Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket for the first time this year on Thursday, as the company sends more passengers on short trips to space.
  • Called NS-20, this New Shepard mission carried a crew of six.
  • Comedian and actor Pete Davidson was previously announced to be flying with the crew, but his seat was turned over after he was unable to join the mission for an undisclosed reason.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket for the first time this year on Thursday, as the company sends more passengers on short trips to space.

Called NS-20, this New Shepard mission carried a crew of six – former Party America CEO Marty Allen; real estate development firm Tricor International CEO Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon; University of North Carolina professor Jim Kitchen; former FAA commercial space office leader Dr. George Nield; and Gary Lai, the chief architect of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket.

Comedian and actor Pete Davidson was previously announced to be flying with the crew, but his seat was turned over to Lai after Davidson became unable to join the mission for an undisclosed reason.

After a handful of countdown holds, to resolve possible issues Blue Origin identified before the launch, the mission launched at 9:57 a.m. ET.

The NS-20 mission also marked Blue Origin's 20th passenger launched to space with New Shepard since the rocket's first crewed mission last summer.

Last year Bezos, also founder and CEO of Amazon, said Blue Origin had sold nearly $100 million worth of tickets to future passengers, though the company has not disclosed the price of a seat on New Shepard.

The rocket launched from Blue Origin's private facility in West Texas, and soared above 100 kilometers — or more than 340,000 feet — before returning to Earth safely a few minutes later. From start to finish, the mission lasted about 10 minutes, with the crew experiencing about two minutes of weightlessness.

New Shepard's capsule accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound to pass beyond the 80-kilometer boundary, or about 50 miles, that the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The capsule is flown autonomously, with no human pilot, and floats down with the assistance of a set of parachutes to land in the Texas desert.

The New Shepard rocket booster is reusable, and returned to land on a concrete pad near the launch site.

Blue Origin also flies New Shepard on cargo missions, such as one held in August, which carry research payloads in the capsule.

This photo provided by Blue Origin, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket sits on a spaceport launch pad near Van Horn, Texas, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Blue Origin | Reuters
This photo provided by Blue Origin, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket sits on a spaceport launch pad near Van Horn, Texas, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
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