Blue Origin launches Michael Strahan, 5 others to edge of space

Launch marks 3rd for Bezos space venture with people on board

Parachutes carry the Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule to the ground after liftoff from the spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (Lm Otero, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

VAN HORN, Tx. – Blue Origin successfully launched its latest passenger spaceflight on Saturday.

The space tourists included TV celebrity and former football star Michael Strahan, who is a co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

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Joining him on the short hop was Laura Shepard Churchley, the oldest daughter of America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, as well as four paying customers. The company hasn’t disclosed the price.

The New Shepard flights reach more than 62 miles above Earth’s surface, but they’re quick. The rocket only leaves the ground for about 10 minutes. Saturday’s mission flew to an altitude of 65.8 miles and provided the crew with about three minutes of weightlessness.

The rocket’s booster made a successful upright landing after separating from the crew capsule, which floated back to Earth and officially ended the flight upon touchdown 10 minutes and 12 seconds after launch.

Amazon founder and Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos was there to open the hatch and greet the crew. First to exit the capsule was Strahan, who commented on how the ride felt.

“This is the thing, the Gs, it’s not a face lift, it’s a face drop,” Strahan said. “I know what I’m going to look like at 85.”

This marks the third passenger flight for the New Shephard rocket. The second flight with space tourists included William Shatner, and the first took off with Jeff Bezos on board.

Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by Wally Funk on a similar jaunt aboard a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.