As the private space industry heats up and new companies join in, SpaceX and Blue Origin are staying clear of the pack.
This month, Blue Origin sent yet another crew to space for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with former NFL star and current media personality Michael Strahan leading the charge.
From the Pitch to Outer Space
We learned that Strahan, host of CBS’s “Good Morning America,” would join the next Blue Origin flight back in November. At the time, the company claimed Strahan would join a crew of six - two more than the usual Blue Origin space flight crew size.
The media personality helped cover Blue Origin’s first flight in July that carried founder Jeff Bezos and three guests to space. Strahan said Blue Origin’s representatives approached him around that time, asking whether he’d be interested in a flight, and he accepted without hesitation.
Announcing his decision, Strahan said on his show:
“I believe that this is the way of being innovative, creative, pioneers in aviation, now space travel. And it’s going to take a while, but I do believe that it will bring a lot of technological breakthroughs and also innovations to us here on Earth, and I just want to be a part of it.”
Strahan wasn’t the only high-profile guest on the flight. Laura Shepard Churchley joined the team, daughter of first American in space Alan Shepard. Other crew members included venture capitalist Lane Bess; engineer and investor Evan Dick; Cameron Bess, Lane’s son and a content creator; and Dylan Taylor, founder and chief executive of Voyager Space.
Passengers paid an undisclosed fee for the trip.
Smooth Sailing for the Crew
Strahan and crew took off on December 11 at Launch Site One - Blue Origin’s West Texas facility. Bad weather initially delayed the flight.
The trip reportedly took about 11 minutes. It was a suborbital flight, so the New Shepard capsule only made it to about 62 miles from the Earth’s surface - just enough to reach the edge of space.
Upon their return, participants disembarked and took time to bask in the experience. Strahan noted the whole thing felt “unreal,” adding that he would very much like to go back.
“It’s a crazy feeling, like the feeling of weightlessness, the feeling when the booster goes off, the rocket goes off, and it detaches and you don’t know what’s up from down. And you’re body just goes like this, and you take off a seatbelt, but naturally, it feels natural to move,” he told news reporters.
Reflecting and Getting Ready for 2022
Strahan’s flight was the third this year for Blue Origin. Bezos and Co. launched the first flight back in July and sent Star Trek actor William Shatner to space in October.
If anything, Blue Origin has been able to master its craft. The company has conquered the suborbital flight scene and is now comfortable sending flights to space.
Now, Blue Origin appears to be winding things down for the year. The company has a huge 2022 planned, including NASA’s recent approval to build a space station. The agency gave Blue Origin over $100 million to begin work on the Orbital Reef, which Blue Origin claims will be available for individuals, companies, and governments looking to set up in space.
The Orbital Reef isn’t expected to be completed until at least 2025. But, Blue Origin will want to start work as quickly as possible. After the company failed to get on the Human Lander System (HLS) contract for NASA’s Artemis, it will want to make an impression with the Orbital Reef.