Blue Origin will launch these 6 space tourists on May 19, its 1st crewed mission since 2022

Six people are displayed in two rows, from left to right, the top and bottom rows feature a man wearing a red toboggin and holding a dog, a black and white image of a man in a tux, a man with a mustache and glasses wearing a black shirt, a bald man in a red sweater, a woman with a silky scarf by a large body of water, and a bearded man with dark hair and glasses in a black shirt.
Blue Origin's NS-25 crew, from left to right, top to bottom: Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Ed Dwight, Ken Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin is set to break its dry spell of crewed launches this weekend.

A crew of six will be aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket-capsule combo on the company's 25th overall launch and seventh space tourism mission, which will lift off from West Texas. The passengers on this flight, known as NS-25, were announced last month; they include retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight, who was selected as the nation's first Black astronaut candidate way back in 1961.

Blue Origin, run by billionaire Jeff Bezos, did not initially indicate a date for the NS-25 mission, but announced earlier this week that the launch is targeted for this Sunday (May 19) at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT; 8:30 a.m. local time in West Texas).

Related: Blue Origin will launch Ed Dwight, the 1st-ever Black astronaut candidate, to space on next New Shepard rocket flight 

Blue Origin's last space tourism launch occurred in August 2022. That mission carried six passengers on a suborbital flight just like the one scheduled for this weekend and performed nominally, with both the New Shepard rocket and the crewed capsule landing safely. 

However, the next New Shepard flight — an uncrewed research mission that launched in September 2022 — suffered an anomaly caused by a structural failure in the nozzle of the rocket's BE-3PM engine. The capsule for that launch managed to parachute safely back to the ground, but the New Shepard rocket exploded, leading Blue Origin to ground the vehicle as the company performed an investigation.

More than a year later, New Shepard was cleared for flight again, and launched another uncrewed payload on the NS-24 mission in December 2023. This weekend, the six passengers of NS-25 will be the first crew to launch on New Shepard since its accident almost two years ago.

a man with a mustache and glasses wearing a black shirt
Ed Dwight

Ed Dwight is a retired U.S. Air Force Captain. In 1961, he was recommended for training at the Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) by President John F. Kennedy, according to Blue Origin's NS-25 mission page. Ultimately, however, NASA did not accept Dwight into the Astronaut corps. He entered civilian life in 1966, retiring from the military to eventually become a sculptor dedicated to memorials and public arts celebrating Black history across the United States and Canada. Dwight's seat aboard NS-25 was sponsored by the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation and Space for Humanity, a nonprofit geared toward making space more accessible for all of humanity.

a man wearing a red toboggin and holding a dog
Mason Angel

Mason Angel founded Industrious Ventures, a venture capital fund that supports companies playing a role in the "transformation of fundamental industries and processes," according to Industrious Ventures' website. His biography on Blue Origin's mission page states that Angel hopes his NS-25 mission will "inspire children and advance partnerships with nonprofits focused on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] in early education." The dog in Angel's photo is named Leo, a nod to low-Earth orbit.

 a black and white image of a man in a tux
Sylvain Chiron

Sylvain Chiron may well be cheering his mission to space with a beer made by Brasserie du Mont Blanc, one of France's largest craft breweries. Chiron founded the brewery in 1999. The French entrepreneur's love of aerospace goes way back; he earned his pilot's license at 16 years old and spent summers in Florida honing those flight skills and watching space shuttle launches from the Space Coast. According to his Blue Origin bio, Chiron currently resides with his family in Savoy, France, where he focuses his efforts on children's education and nature preservation.

a bald man in a red sweater
Ken Hess

Ken Hess rose to the entrepreneurial top with his Family Tree Maker software, which he sold to in 2003. With his success, Hess was able to found the children's STEM education nonprofit Science Buddies to improve science literacy in grades K-12. According to Blue Origin's website, Science Buddies has reached 250 million users.

a woman with a silky scarf by a large body of water
Carol Schaller

Carol Schaller lives on a farm in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, with her husband, and when she isn't tending to her 100 chickens, she is busy on her mission to see the world. Schaller was informed by her doctor in 2017 that she would eventually go blind, and since that diagnosis has traveled to 25 different countries and the South Pole. Now, she will get to look at space with her own two eyes. "Seeing Earth’s thin layer of atmosphere in the blackness of space will fulfill a lifelong dream," Blue Origin wrote on its NS-25 mission page. 

 a bearded man with dark hair and glasses in a black shirt.
Gopi Thotakura

Gopi Thotakura is co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, an Atlanta-based global center for holistic health and wellness. Thotakura graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is a practiced pilot of several non-military aircraft, including gliders, seaplanes and hot air balloons. His Blue Origin biography also indicates that Thotakura has served as an international medical jet pilot.

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Josh Dinner
Writer, Content Manager

Josh Dinner is's Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA's commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh's launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.