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Blue Origin Breaks Two Years Hiatus with Successful Space Tourism Flight

ByHuey Yee Ong

May 20, 2024
Blue Origin Breaks Two Years Hiatus with Successful Space Tourism Flight

Blue Origin Breaks Two Years Hiatus with Successful Space Tourism Flight

Blue Origin has resumed its space tourism operations, successfully completing a crewed flight to the edge of space after nearly two years without manned missions.

This morning, Jeff Bezos’ company launched six tourists from West Texas, marking its return with a significant flight that included a historic passenger, Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut candidate from 1961. Despite a minor issue with one parachute, the mission safely achieved its objectives, signaling a positive comeback for the firm.

This morning’s flight, which lifted off shortly after 10:30 AM ET from Launch Site One, saw six individuals ascend to approximately 62 miles above Earth, crossing the Kármán line that defines the boundary of space.

Among the passengers was 90-year-old Ed Dwight, who had once been a promising candidate for NASA’s Astronaut Corps but never reached space during his active career. Today’s journey rectified that, decades later, providing him and his fellow passengers, Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura, a brief experience of zero gravity.

During the approximately ten-minute flight, passengers had the opportunity to unbuckle and float freely, experiencing weightlessness. The return to Earth highlighted a slight deviation from the expected, as only two of the three parachutes deployed correctly. However, this did not impact the crew’s safe return, thanks to the capsule’s design which includes redundancies for such scenarios.

Today’s launch was not only notable for its crew but also marked the 25th flight of a New Shepard rocket. The last crewed mission by Blue Origin was in August 2022, and a subsequent mission in September of the same year faced a structural failure. After a pause, the company resumed flights in December 2023 with a payload mission, setting the stage for today’s successful return to crewed flights. This event represents a significant stride in the ongoing development and reliability of commercial space travel, positioning Blue Origin to continue its ventures in the burgeoning space tourism sector.

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Featured Image courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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