Editor's note: Blue Origin has successfully launched Michael Strahan and 5 others to space and back on the New Shepard NS-19 space tourist flight. Recovery of the crew is now under way. Live updates
Blue Origin's third crewed mission is scheduled to launch on today (Dec. 11) and you can watch it live online.
The company's New Shepard spacecraft will send GMA host and former NFL star Michael Strahan and five other people to suborbital space on the mission, which is known as NS-19.
Live updates: Michael Strahan's Blue Origin Launch on New Shepard
Liftoff is targeted for 9:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT) on Saturday, though that could change due to weather or technical issues. You can watch the action via BlueOrigin.com and here at Space.com, if possible. Blue Origin's live webcast is scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. EDT (1315 GMT). The company also plans mission updates through @BlueOrigin on Twitter.
If past missions are any indication, Blue Origin will also hold a press conference post-flight, which Space.com will also put on our website if possible.
NS-19 will be the first mission that fills all six seats on the New Shepard spacecraft. (The previous two crewed flights each sent four people up and back). Below is a list of the other people in the crew besides Strahan.
- Laura Shepard Churchley, 74, the eldest daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard. Shepard was the first NASA astronaut to fly in space, and the New Shepard spacecraft is named after him.
- Dylan Taylor, 51, chairman and CEO of the space exploration firm Voyager Space, founder of the nonprofit Space for Humanity, and co-founding patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
- Evan Dick, age not disclosed, an engineer and investor who is a volunteer pilot for Starfighters Aerospace.
- Lane Bess, age not disclosed, principal and founder of a technology-focused venture fund called Bess Ventures and Advisory.
- Cameron Bess, age not disclosed, who is a child of Lane. They stream variety content on Twitch under the alias MeepsKitten.
Strahan and Churchley are flying as guests of Blue Origin, just as "Mercury 13" pilot Wally Funk and "Star Trek" actor William Shatner did on the first and second New Shepard crewed flights, respectively. The other four passengers are paying for their seats; Blue Origin has not yet publicly disclosed a price for customers.
A typical 11-minute flight on Blue Origin sees the rocket launch and land autonomously, with the spacecraft also flying autonomously and landing under parachutes minutes after the rocket. Crew members will fly far above the Kármán line, an internationally recognized boundary of space that lies 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth's surface.
New Shepard has performed 18 flights prior to date, but most of those previous efforts were uncrewed tests or payload research flights. Blue Origin is still recruiting customers willing to pay for experiments in microgravity, along with super-rich tourists who can pay for a ride to suborbital space.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace