Blue Origin launched its first crewed mission on its New Shepard rocket July 20 to fly its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers to suborbital space and back. Liftoff occurred at 9:11 a.m. EDT (1311 GMT) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West Texas and will launch Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 and aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen. A post-launch press conference will play above shortly.
Blue Origin is three days away from making history with its first astronaut launch, which will launch the company's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
The mission, which will launch on Blue Origin's reusable New Shepard rocket and space capsule, will lift off from the company's Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), and yes, there will be a webcast. It should start at about 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and cover the crew's walkout to the rocket and other prelaunch activities. You can watch it on Space.com and on BlueOrigin.com.
Blue Origin will hold a prelaunch news conference on Sunday (July 18) at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) to discuss details of the launch. That will be webcast on BlueOrigin.com and simulcast here on Space.com if possible.
Space.com will offer live updates of the mission here on launch day (which happens to be the 52nd anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing), as well as over the next few days leading up to the launch.
This mission has been a long-time coming for Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000. The company has flown 15 uncrewed test flights of its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft, culminating in an "astronaut rehearsal" flight in April 2021. The company wants to fly paying passengers (and scientists with experiments, too) on trips to suborbital space that fly higher than 62 miles (100 kilometers).
Infographic: How Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket works
To raise awareness for its First Human Spaceflight, Blue Origin held a public auction for a seat on the flight, which was won by an anonymous bidder for $28 million. During the auction, Blue Origin announced that Bezos, his brother and Funk would be on the flight.
But 5 days before launch, Blue Origin announced that the auction winner had opted out of the launch, citing schedule conflicts. Instead, Daemen joined the crew as his father Joes Daemen had submitted the second-highest bid in the auction. The amount has not been disclosed.
As we prepare for Blue Origin's press conference on Saturday, here's a few videos on the upcoming mission from Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and the company to tide you over. -- Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief
Blue Origin prelaunch press conference today
A photo posted by on
Blue Origin will hold a press conference at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) today to preview the company's first astronaut launch on July 20. The press conference will be webcast on BlueOrigin.com, the company's website.
On Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing, Blue Origin will launch its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos on a suborbital spaceflight from the company's Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn. Flying with Bezos will be his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen. Liftoff is at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
The four astronauts-to-be met apparently gathered together on Saturday to view their New Shepard rocket and space capsule in a meeting Jeff Bezos shared on Instagram. Funk, 82, and Daemen, 18, will set new records for the oldest and youngest people in space when they launch, as Elizabeth Howell reports today for Space.com.
"That's my window!" Funk exclaimed as they examined the rocket and wore matching cowboy hats.
-- Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief
Blue Origin press conference live
Update: The press conference has ended. You can see it in full above.
Blue Origin's prelaunch press conference for its July 20 First Human Flight is live now. You can watch it in the window above, here on Space.com, here at BlueOrigin.com and here on YouTube. -- Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief
Blue Origin is GO for New Shepard launch
Blue Origin has cleared its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft to launch the company's first astronaut flight, NS-16, a mission that will carry billionaire Jeff Bezos and three others to suborbital space and back on Tuesday, July 20. Liftoff is set for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
"The vehicle is ready to fly," said Chris Yeager, Blue Origin's chief engineer for New Shepard, in a prelaunch press conference. There are no technical issues with the spacecraft, he added.
Blue Origin expects a slight chance of rain early on launch day, but the weather looks like it will clear in time for the planned launch. The company will begin its launch day webcast at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT). You can watch that on this page, on Space.com here and via BlueOrigin.com.
Blue Origin's upcoming launch, which it has called the First Human Flight, will launch Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen to an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), where they will experience 3-4 minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth in their space capsule. They will land in the West Texas desert to be retrieved by a recovery team.
The passengers are staying in Blue Origin's "astronaut village," where they are undergoing 14 hours of preflight training over two days to prepare themselves for the spaceflight.
Blue Origin One Day from Launch
Blue Origin is now just over 24 hours from its first crewed launch. The company's New Shepard rocket and space capsule will launch billionaire Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen on Tuesday, July 20, at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). Blue Origin's webcast will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) on Tuesday.
Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with plans for human spaceflight and it's been a long road to Tuesday's launch.
See how Blue Origin and Bezos followed that path to their first astronaut launch here, as reported by senior writer Mike Wall.
Blue Origin passengers won't wear spacesuits during launch
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and his New Shepard made the TV news rounds today to share details about their coming launch on the company's First Human Flight mission and the billionaire revealed a surprising about the flight.
Bezos and his three crewmates (his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen) won't wear pressurized spacesuits when they launch. Instead they'll wear Blue Origin's standard-issue flight suits. You can read our full story here by Elizabeth Howell.
The New Shepard astronaut are undergoing final training today for their flight, including ingress and egress practice for getting into and out of the spacecraft, emergency escape plans and fire emergency training.
Launch is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas.
It's Launch Day for Blue Origin
LAUNCH SITE ONE, West Texas - I’m here at the New Shepard launch site, in the West Texas desert near the town of Van Horn. It’s a little after 5 a.m. local time, about 3 hours before liftoff. It’s still dark, but I know that creosotes are thick on the dusty flats here; their sweet, aromatic smell is heavy is the predawn air.
About 30 other journalists and I are clacking our keyboards in the Press Hangar, a cavernous white building with long wooden tables, including some that bear snacks and coffee — and signs promising a hot breakfast to come. There are also upholstered chairs and couches, which are looking mighty inviting at this early hour. Cadging a nap is pretty tempting, but it might look bad. And I don’t want to miss the sunrise…
Blue Origin on track for launch today
Blue Origin reports everything is going well for today's First Human Flight launch from the company's Launch Site One in West Texas.
The New Shepard rocket and capsule are on the launch pad, with launch targeted for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). A webcast will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and you can watch that on this page at the top.
Here's a view of today's rocket rollout.
#NewShepard is on the pad. The launch team completed vehicle rollout this morning and final preparations are underway. Liftoff is targeted for 8:00 am CDT / 13:00 UTC. Live broadcast begins at T-90 minutes on https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr. #NSFirstHumanFlight pic.twitter.com/oShmtRmA4nJuly 20, 2021
Blue Origin announces call signs for astronauts
Blue Origin is running its webcast and talking about its crew. Mark Bezos' call sign is going to be called "Demo", while the other crew members (billionaire Jeff Bezos, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen) will each be called by their last names during the 11-minute flight.
Liftoff remains scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), according to the webcast.
One hour before liftoff
We are one hour before the scheduled liftoff of the New Shepard system at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) from Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas. The webcast is ongoing, mostly with prerecorded videos for the moment.
Above is a shot of New Shepard on the pad from Blue Origin's webcast.
The next major launch milestone should take place at about 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) when the four space tourists climb the launch tower. Scheduled for a spaceflight today is Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
An auspicious anniversary
July 20 is most famous for being the anniversary of the first human landing on the moon. In 1969, the Apollo 11 crew touched down safely in the Sea of Tranquility with NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard.
Another famous (but lesser-known) July 20 space milestone came in 1976, when NASA's Viking 1 lander made the first successful touchdown on the Red Planet.
Astronauts begin walkout
The New Shepard crew has just emerged for the cameras from the Blue Origin astronaut training center nearby Launch Site One. The crew members each received a special launch day coin just prior to leaving the building, Blue Origin said during the webcast.
Scheduled to fly into space today are billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
The launch is still scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), according to Blue Origin, and officials said on the webcast that the weather remains good for launch. Listening to the webcast, you can periodically hear loudspeaker updates and monitoring helicopters flying overhead.
Mission Control gives "go" for astronauts to go to pad
The astronauts are now driving to the launch pad after receiving the "Go" from Blue Origin's mission control.
Blue Origin crew walking to launch pad
The Blue Origin crew has just left their car, which drove them to the launch area. They are approaching Launch Site One and the New Shepard spacecraft on foot in preparation to climb the tower for ingress.
Blue Origin crew ascends launch tower
The crew members are climbing the launch tower and are awaiting word that they can enter the New Shepard capsule. In the lead was Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, who waved enthusiastically; she has been waiting six decades to go to space.
Scheduled to fly into space today are Funk, billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
Crew leaves astronaut shelter
The astronauts have emerged from their astronaut shelter, a small safety zone nearby the capsule in case of emergency. They are crossing the launch tower bridge to ingress the capsule for Blue Origin's first spaceflight. Launch remains scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
New Shepard crew strapped in for spaceflight
The hatch will soon be closing for the New Shepard capsule and the four crew members inside are buckled in their harnesses for their scheduled 11-minute flight. During preparations, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk waved through her window at a filming helicopter and pasted a postcard to the glass.
Capcom or capsule communicator Sarah Knights welcomed the crew and performed a comm check for each crew member. "For now, just sit back and relax," she said.
Launch on this first crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin remains scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
Hatch closes for New Shepard crew
The hatch is now closed to the New Shepard capsule and final leak checks are being performed by ground personnel. The four crew members inside are awaiting their scheduled 11-minute flight at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).
From inside the capsule, crew member Mark Bezos gave a thumbs-up to the window for the filming helicopter to see.
Video: Crew drives to Launch Pad One
While we wait for the scheduled Blue Origin launch at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), here is a video replay of the New Shepard crew driving to Launch Pad One and arriving at the rocket pad.
Best wishes from Christina Bezos
Christina Bezos, sister to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and venture capitalist Mark Bezos (who are both on the flight), sent well-wishes to her siblings. She said the siblings used to play at being "Star Trek" crew members as kids, while driving in the car. "Now hurry up and get your asses down here so I can give you a hug," Bezos joked in the statement, which was read to the crew by capcom Sarah Knights.
Launch may be delayed from 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT)
The crew is in a hold and may miss their 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) scheduled launch time. We are waiting for more updates from Blue Origin.
The hold has been lifted. Blue Origin has not given details on what happened yet, but the countdown has resumed. The new launch time appears to be about 9:13 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT), based on the countdown clock.
Crew is go for launch
Blue Origin completed its go/no go with the crew and ground and the webcast said New Shepard is go for its first crewed launch.
New Shepard lifts off on historic first spaceflight
That's a successful liftoff for Blue Origin's New Shepard system and its four crew members: billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen. The rocket left the ground from Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas.
You can see the go/no go for launch in the video above.
Crew enjoys view from window
We're hearing audio from the crew cabin with the members enjoying the look out the window. The astronauts are still climbing into space at T+4 minutes.
Astronauts get back into their seats after microgravity portion
The crew members were alerted by capcom and an in-cabin alarm to go back into their seats after experiencing about four minutes after microgravity.
New Shepard's rocket landed
New Shepard's rocket has successfully touched down near its launch area at Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas. The crew should be landing in just a few minutes.
New Shepard safely lands after historic spaceflight
That's a safe landing for the four crew members aboard New Shepard on the historic first crewed flight. Riding to space today were billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
"You've got a very happy crew, I want you to know," Jeff Bezos called during the landing, just before the parachutes popped successfully above the capsule. The flight appeared to be nominal, Blue Origin said during the webcast.
Peak altitude of 351,210 ft (107.05 km)
According to the Blue Origin broadcast, the peak altitude was 351,210 ft (107.05 km). The crew is in their capsule exclaiming about the experience, while awaiting their egress from the capsule with assistance from ground personnel.
Hatch opens on New Shepard capsule
The hatch is now open on the New Shepard capsule and the crew is beginning to climb out of the spacecraft. Coming back out of the spacecraft now are billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.
Video: Replay of the launch and landing
Here's our replay of today's New Shepard mission carrying four crew members to suborbital space.
Blue Origin webcast ends
That's a wrap for today's New Shepard spaceflight and the Blue Origin webcast, which ended with the crew members greeting their families steps from where their capsule landed in the Texas desert.
Please stay tuned for Space.com's wrap story and more updates throughout today, including the crew press conference. It was originally scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) but that may change due to the brief flight hold, or other factors.
Video of the crew egress
Here's a replay of the crew members egressing from the New Shepard capsule a few minutes ago. Flying to space today were Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and physics student Oliver Daemen.
Read the full story
Check out our full coverage of today's launch from senior writer Mike Wall, on the scene this morning in West Texas.
Hear from crewmembers about the flight!
Blue Origin will hold a press conference about its first crewed flight beginning at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) — watch in the briefing here, courtesy of Blue Origin.
Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk celebrate Blue Origin launch
Blue Origin's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and his three crewmates on the company's First Human Flight mission are reveling in their launch to suborbital space and back today. You can read our main wrap story here.
"Oh my God!" explained Bezos during the conference. "My expectations were high, and they were dramatically exceeded." Here's how he reactied:
Funk, who at 82 became the oldest person to fly in space, said she wants to go again.
"We had a great time, it was wonderful," Funk said, adding that she just wished it was longer and that she had extra room for some somersaults in weightlessness. "I want to go again, fast!" See her reaction here.
That's a wrap for our live updates on Blue Origin's historic launch.
Space.com will have a series of stories later today on the experiences of the Blue Origin space travelers, as well as what's next for Blue Origin passenger flights and Wally Funk's reflections on flying in space. And we may even throw in a photo gallery to boot!
Blue Origin passengers celebrate launch
Blue Origin's first passengers are reveling in their launch to suborbital space and back today.
Space.com's Chelsea Gohd reports on how Blue Origin's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old Mercury 13 pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen are feeling after their landmark flight.
Spoiler alert, they're ecstatic.
"I loved every minute of it," Funk said in a post-launch news conference.
Meanwhile, Blue Origin isn't planning on stopping at just one passenger launch.
The company has already announced plans for at least two passenger launches in 2021, with the next one as early as September. Space.com contributor Elizabeth Howell has the story.
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