Melbourne restaurant owner set to fly to space Thursday on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket

Pineapples restaurateur Steve Young set to join 5 others in space flight

Winter Park couple launches on Blue Origin rocket

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Blue Origin has scheduled a Thursday morning launch for its sixth New Shepard crewed mission, which will take Pineapples owner Steve Young and five companions soaring into space, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

The suborbital rocket-capsule’s NS-22 launch window opens at 9:30 a.m. from rural West Texas. A webcast will begin 30 minutes before launch at blueorigin.com.

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“I’m unusually calm still. It may change when I’m sitting in that seat, waiting for it to light. But right now, I still feel fine,” Young said Monday morning en route to Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas.

Young briefly chatted with FLORIDA TODAY via phone during his flight’s refueling stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“I’m excited for the launch and excited to meet the astronauts. They are a very interesting group,” Young said.

“I’m like the blue-collar boy from Melbourne that’s not as interesting as the rest. But I’m going to be happy to represent,” he said.

Young’s flight is scheduled to make history: He will share the capsule with the first people from Egypt and Portugal to fly into space. His fellow commercial astronauts:

  • Coby Cotton, who cofounded the YouTube sports-entertainment channel Dude Perfect — which has more than 57 million followers.
  • Mário Ferreira, a Portuguese entrepreneur, investor and president of Pluris Investments Group, which includes more than 40 companies.
  • Vanessa O’Brien, a British-American explorer who will set a Guinness World Record by becoming the first woman to complete the “Explorers’ Extreme Trifecta.” She has climbed Mount Everest and journeyed to the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, and she will next cross the Kármán line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.
  • Clint Kelly III, who is credited with starting the development of the technology base leading to today’s driverless cars.
  • Sara Sabry, an Egyptian mechanical and biomedical engineer who founded Deep Space Initiative.

Thursday may be uniquely busy for Space Coast launch fans. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is slated to lift off between 6:29 and 7:09 a.m. from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Then at 7:08 p.m., a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter from the Cape.

NS-22 marks Blue Origin’s sixth human flight for the New Shepard program, its third human flight this year, and the 22nd in its history.

Young is an Indialantic resident who has lived in Brevard County since 1969. The former CEO of telecommunications-installation giant Y-Com opened Pineapples, a three-story restaurant-bar-concert venue, in April 2021 on Highland Avenue in downtown Eau Gallie.

He said he was scheduled to attend flight briefings Monday afternoon in Texas, then embark on astronaut training all day Tuesday and Wednesday.

The New Shepard crew capsule is autonomous, and there is no pilot aboard. It measures 10 feet high and 12½ feet wide with six passenger seats, six windows, handholds to help passengers maneuver in zero-G, and 530 cubic feet of interior space.

The booster rocket stands 53 feet tall and is propelled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

If all goes according to plan during Young’s 11-minute journey, the capsule will separate from the booster roughly 47 miles above Earth, then continue climbing beyond the 62-mile Kármán Line.

The capsule will enter a stable freefall back to a landing in the West Texas desert, slowed by three drogue chutes and a retro-thrust system.

Blue Origin officials unveiled the NS-22 mission patch on Friday. Young, who is an avid fisherman, shared an image of the patch on his Facebook page.

“We all had input. The fish under the ship and the colors represent me,” Young said in his Facebook post.

Young is accompanied on his Texas trip by his wife, Melodie, who will watch the launch from terra firma. She will be joined by a group of Young’s well-wishers.

“I’ve got the friends and family coming in on Wednesday, and they get to see me at 5:30 in the morning before the launch on Thursday — and hugs and kisses,” Young said.

“I go to the rocket, and they go to their two different viewing sites. And I get to see them right after I land,” he said.

Young said he is allowed to bring up to 3 pounds of items aboard the capsule to fly into space. One item: a small Surfing Santas of Cocoa Beach plush toy.

Founded in 2009, Surfing Santas drew thousands of spectators and participants to downtown Cocoa Beach on Christmas Eve. Co-founder George Trosset said rocketing the plush toy into space is a tongue-in-cheek promotion for the popular event.

“Then, what if he could go to the space station sometime? What if he could go to Mars? I mean, he doesn’t weigh much. I think he weighs 4 or 5 ounces,” Trosset said.

“He doesn’t eat. He doesn’t drink. He don’t need potty breaks, don’t need a special suit for traveling in space. He just a good traveling companion,” he said.

Young is also taking along his father Henry’s U.S. Army dog tags, his mother Erika’s golden cross, and stickers from his son Austin’s band Gary Lazer Eyes — along with a few Pineapples hats.

“I’m just very happy to represent the Space Coast. I’m done watching them. I want to ride one,” Young said.

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