Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket is set to launch on Tuesday for the company’s first crewed spaceflight, which will include billionaire and creator Jeff Bezos, the company said on Sunday.
Flight Director Steve Lanius said during a press conference Sunday that the flight remained on track for launch at 9 a.m. EDT from the company’s Corn Ranch launch site 160 miles east of El Paso, Texas, stating there were no issues with the vehicle systems, wind forecasts were favorable for the flight and weather was not currently a constraint to launch.
“New Shepard is ready to fly,” said Lanius.
Tuesday marks the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps on the moon, and Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith called it a “special day in space flight history” adding that the company frequently chooses the dates and names associated with its launches and spacecraft to “honor those who came before us.”
“They made history by landing on the moon and we’re working hard each and every day to be good stewards of that legacy, to live up to those high standards and go even further in our leg of this multi-generational journey to space,” he said.
Bezos, along with his brother Mark Bezos, will join the trip on Tuesday. In addition, 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk of the United States and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen of the Netherlands will become the oldest and youngest persons to fly in space, respectively.
Daemen will also be the first paying client sent into space by Blue Origin.
Customers have already signed up for future trips, according to Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales at Blue Origin, and two more flights are scheduled for this year.
She went on to say that while the passengers had considerable preparation for the journey, New Shepard allowed them to focus on “the flight of a lifetime” across the Karman line, which defines the border between earth and space.
“This vehicle is an autonomous vehicle, it’s been designed so that the customers, the astronauts themselves can experience the flight and leave the rest to the rocket and the rest to the team to operate,” Cornell explained.
Blue Origin plans a second voyage at the end of September or the beginning of October, according to Smith.
Last Sunday, another billionaire and creator, Richard Branson, launched into space and landed aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.