Blue Origin flies thrill seekers into space, including the oldest astronaut

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Blue Origin saw its first crewed launch since a 2022 rocket accident left rival Virgin Galactic the sole operator in the fledgling suborbital tourism market.

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Blue Origin saw its first crewed launch since a 2022 rocket accident left rival Virgin Galactic the sole operator in the fledgling suborbital tourism market.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, Blue Origin flew adventurers to space on Sunday, including a former Air Force pilot who was denied the chance to become the United States’ first black astronaut decades ago.

It was the first crewed launch for the company owned and founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos since a 2022 rocket crash left rival Virgin Galactic as the sole operator in the fledgling suborbital tourism market.

Six people, including sculptor Ed Dwight, who was on track to become NASA’s first astronaut of color in the 1960s before being controversially rejected, were launched from the Launch Site One base in the US at around 9:36 a.m. local time (1436 GMT). west Texas, a live feed showed.

At 90 years, 8 months and 10 days, Dwight became the oldest person to ever go to space.

“This is a life-changing experience, everyone should do this,” he exclaimed after the flight.

“I thought I didn’t really need this in my life,” he added, reflecting on his omission from the astronaut corps, which was his first experience with failure as a young man.

“But I lied,” he added with a hearty laugh.

“You take everything you imagined, you multiply it roughly by 100 and you’re still quite far from reality,” crew member and French entrepreneur Sylvain Chiron told AFP.

“I’m not quite back on Earth yet.”


One of the Blue Origin capsule’s three parachutes failed to fully inflate, possibly resulting in a harder landing than expected.

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One of the Blue Origin capsule’s three parachutes failed to fully inflate, possibly resulting in a harder landing than expected.

Mission NS-25 is the seventh human flight for Blue Origin, with short forays with the New Shepard suborbital vehicle providing a stepping stone to bigger ambitions, including the development of a full-fledged heavy-lift rocket and lunar lander.

Including Sunday’s crew, the company flew 37 people aboard the New Shepard, a small, fully reusable rocket system named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Second non-age related

The program suffered a setback when a New Shepard rocket caught fire shortly after launch on September 12, 2022, even though the unmanned capsule ejected safely.

A federal investigation found that an overheated engine jet was the cause. Blue Origin took corrective action and conducted a successful unmanned launch in December 2023, paving the way for Sunday’s mission.

After takeoff, the sleek and spacious capsule was separated from the booster, which produces no CO2 emissions. The rocket performed an accurate vertical landing.

As the spaceship floated past the Karman Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space 62 miles above sea level, passengers had the chance to marvel at the curvature of the Earth and loosen their seat belts to float (or somersault) for a few minutes. weightlessness.

The capsule then reentered the atmosphere and deployed its parachutes for a desert landing in a cloud of sand. However, one of the three parachutes failed to fully inflate, possibly resulting in a harder landing than expected.

Asked for comment, a Blue Origin spokesperson emphasized that the system is designed with multiple fail-safes.


“This is a life-changing experience, everyone should do this,” exclaimed Ed Dwight after his Blue Origin flight into space.

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“This is a life-changing experience, everyone should do this,” exclaimed Ed Dwight after his Blue Origin flight into space.

“The capsule is designed to land safely with one parachute. The overall mission was a success and all our astronauts are happy to be back,” the spokesperson said.

In total, the mission took about 11 minutes round trip.

Bezos himself was part of the program’s first crewed flight in 2021. A few months later, Star Trek’s William Shatner blurred the lines between science fiction and reality when he became the world’s oldest astronaut at the age of 90, decades after first playing a space traveler.

Finally to space

Dwight, who was almost two months older than Shatner at the time of his flight, became only the second non-age old to venture beyond Earth.

Astronaut John Glenn remains the oldest to orbit the planet, a feat he achieved in 1998 at the age of 77 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Sunday’s mission finally gave Dwight the opportunity he was denied decades ago.

He was an elite test pilot when he was appointed by then-President John F Kennedy to participate in a highly competitive Air Force program known as a Pathway for the astronaut corps, but he was ultimately not selected.

He left the military in 1966, citing the pressures of racial politics, before dedicating his life to telling black history through sculpture. His art, exhibited across the country, includes iconic figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and more.

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