Blue Origin’s Thursday space tourist flight is DELAYED: Mission set to take GMA host Michael Strahan and the daughter of Alan Shepard is moved to Saturday due to poor weather

  • Blue Origin has delayed its Thursday space tourism flight due to poor weather
  • The mission has now been set for Saturday, with liftoff at 9:45am ET
  • The New Shepard rocket will take off from Launch Site One in West Texas 
  • Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley have been gifted their seats 
  • The other four include space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess and his son, Cameron Bess 

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin was set to launch its third space tourism flight on Thursday, but forecasted winds has pushed the mission to Saturday, December 11.

Liftoff from Launch Site One is now targeted for 9:45am ET from Launch Site One in the West Texas town of Van Horn.

This flight will include six passengers, who include Good Morning America co-host Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley — the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly to space.

The other four, who have paid a high price for the experience, include space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess and Cameron Bess, who will become the first parent-child duo to fly in space.

Wednesday’s announcement also states that the team has completed Flight Readiness Review and the vehicle has met all mission requirements for launch.

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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin was set to launch its third space tourism flight on Thurs, but forecasted winds has pushed the mission to Sat. Liftoff from Launch Site One is now targeted for 9:45am ET from Launch Site One in the West Texas town of Van Horn (stock photo)

‘Astronauts will complete training today and weather remains as the only gating factor for launch,’ Blue Origin shared in a blog post.

Saturday’s mission marks New Shepard’s 19th flight and the first time the rocket will carry six people inside the Blue Origin capsule to space – previous missions only included four individuals.

The six-person crew will soar at least 65 miles above the surface and spend about 10 minutes in zero-gravity.

Blue Origin claims that the short trips into space help further ‘the company’s vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth’.

Good Morning America co-host anchor Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly to space have been gifted their seats on the New Shepard rocket that is now set to launch on Dec 11

Strahan won a Super Bowl as a member of the New York Giants and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Since retiring, Strahan has become a two-time Emmy award winner and has won a Peabody award as a journalist.

Along with co-hosting ‘Good Morning America,’ he also hosts the game show ‘$100,000 Pyramid.’

‘I have to say, there are a lot of people who look and they go, ‘You know what? Billionaires spend a lot of money to go into space,’ but this is bigger than that,’ Strahan said in an interview with Bezos after Blue Origin’s first human flight, according to collectSpace.

The paying customers include space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor (left) and investor Evan Dick (right)

‘This is not just about you trying to go to space, this is so big in terms of education and for things that are going on on this planet.’

Blue Origin notes that since Strahan was invited to join the flight, he will receive a stipend.

Shepard Churchley carries the famous last name of her father, Alan Shepard (pictured), the first American to go to space on May 5, 1961

However, he is planning on donating the amount to the Boys & Girls Club.

Shepard Churchley carries the famous last name of her father who took Americans to space on May 5, 1961 by conducting a suborbital flight aboard the Mercury capsule named Freedom 7.

‘It is kind of fun for me to say, an original Shepard will fly on the New Shepard,’ Shepard Churchley said in a video interview posted by Blue Origin.

She currently serves as Chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, a foundation that raises funds for college students and provides mentoring to scholars pursuing careers and research in STEM.

Churchley will also become the second, second-generation U.S. astronaut to fly into space.

The first was Richard Garriott, the son of Skylab and space shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott, who funded his own trip to the International Space Station in 2008.

‘For our purposes today, the thing that is most interesting about Alan Shepard is that he is the namesake for this vehicle, New Shepard, and that is because the mission profile we did today is very similar to the one that Alan flew when he became the first American in space sixty-ish years ago,’ Bezos said at a press conference following his own flight into space, according to collectSpace.

Taylor, the third member of the flight, is the Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a global space exploration firm headquartered in Denver.

Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess and Cameron Bess, who will become the first parent-child duo to fly in space

He is also the founder of the global nonprofit Space for Humanity, which is organizing the planet’s first Sponsored Citizen Astronaut Program.

Dick is an engineer, investor and Managing Member of Dick Holdings.

He is also an ATP-rated pilot, which means he is certified to fly for any airline, and enjoys sailing and riding around on his motorcycle.

Lane and Cameron Bess, father and son, will make history as the first parent-child pair to venture into the final frontier.

The six passengers will experience the same journey as Bezos (second from right) did on July 20, when he, his brother Mark (second from left) ventured 66 miles above they surface. The brothers were joined by Oliver Daemen (left) and  Wally Funk (right)

Shatner (second from left) who at 90 years old is the oldest person in space, took the epic journey in October with Chris Boshuizen (second from right) and Glen de Vries (right), as well as Audrey Powers (left), who is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission – Shatner and Powers were honorary guests

Lane is best known for having helped start and build two cybersecurity companies, Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks, while his son is a content creator.

According to Blue Origin: ‘Cameron identifies as pansexual and is proud to represent marginalized communities and hopes their journey can inspire others.’

Blue Origin’s first space tourist flight, which launched in July, included Bezos himself and the second on October 13 saw William Shatner, actor famed for playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek, travel 65 miles above the surface.

Although Bezos has not officially announced pricing for the flight, actor Tom Hanks, who was asked to join the last one in October, said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel that he ‘ain’t paying 28 million bucks’ for the seat.


Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.

Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.

The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.

Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.

SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman. 

His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station. 

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency. 

SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas. 

Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.

Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.    

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff. 

Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9. 

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