On Dec. 11, 2021, Blue Origin launched former NFL football star and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan to space alongside five crewmates on the New Shepard rocket's NS-19 mission. Strahan launched on a suborbital flight with Laura Shepard Churchley, eldest daughter of famed NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, and paying passengers Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick, Lane Bess and Cameron Bess.
It's Launch Day for Blue Origin's NS-19
It's launch day for Blue Origin's NS-19 mission aboard New Shepard, which will liftoff off at 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT) to carry Good Morning America host and former NFL player Michael Strahan and five others on a suborbital trip to space.
The six New Shepard crewmembers are at Blue Origin's Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas for today's launch. They're staying at Blue Origin's Astronaut Village, where they're flight has been delayed since Dec. 9 due to high winds and weather.
Blue Origin's webcast begn at 8:15 a.m. EST (1315 GMT) and you can watch it in the feed above.
Flying aboard the New Shepard vehicle with Strahan will be:
- 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.
We'll have live coverage of the countdown and launch here.
Meet Blue Origin's NS-19 crew
Blue Origin has released a new video showcasing New Shepard's NS-19 crew and you can watch it here.
The NS-19 mission will launch Good Morning America host and former NFL star Michael Strahan on a suborbital trip with five crewmates, including Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of the late Alan Shepard, one of NASA's Mercury 7 astronauts who was the first American to fly in space and later walked on the moon.
"I kind of feel like a little bit like I'm following in my father's footsteps," Churchley says in the video.
"The moment that I decided I would be willing to go was here," Strahan says, referring to when he covered Blue Origin's first crewed launch with Jeff Bezos aboard for Good Morning America earlier this year. "Watching Jeff and Mark Bezos completely changed my mind. It was amazing."
Dylan Taylor, one of the four paying passengers, says going to space has been a lifelong dream, while another passenger, Evan Dick, says he'd hoped to work in aerospace when he was younger and is catching up for lost time with this flight.
Father-child duo of Lane and Cameron Bess -- also paying passengers -- round out the crew.
"When it became real, I went up to the family and said 'Who wants to go?' and the only person who raised their hand was Cameron," Lane says. "We weren't thinking about it being first father and child so much as it being an opportunity to experience it together."
"It's certainly an honor to be one of the first LGTBQ+ people in space," Cameron, who is pansexual, says in the video. "You know I'm now hero. I didn't really work to go space, but I do think that the visibility that I'm providing for that community is valuable."
Blue Origin's webcast is live
Blue Origin's live launch webcast for today's NS-19 New Shepard mission has begun. You can watch it in the window at the top of this page.
Weather is good for launch
Blue Origin's webcast just said that weather is looking good for launch.
Tribute for Glen de Vries
Blue Origin ran a short tribute video (available below) for Glen de Vries, a participant in the company's NS-18 spaceflight with "Star Trek" star William Shatner. De Vries died in a plane crash in November.
Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE on site
Robert Pearlman of collectSPACE, who is a long-time Space.com contributor, is reporting live from Van Horn.
Here's his first report on Twitter from the launch site: "Good morning from 's Launch Site One, where there is a #NewShepard rocket on the pad and a chill in the air! Launch preparations are underway for an 8:45 a.m. CST liftoff with the #NS19 crew. @BlueOrigin"
Key moments to watch for before launch
Key moments in today’s countdown to launch:
- T-54 mins, ceremony during which crew receives commemorative coins
- T-45 mins, crew departs the Astronaut Training Center and moves to the launch tower.
- T-33 mins, astronauts will load into the crew capsule.
- T-24 mins, capsule hatch close.
- T-10 mins, Terminal Count Ready Report from Mission Control.
Here's an image of the commemorative mission coin that the NS-19 crew will take into space. It includes images of the Blue Origin symbol (a feather) and the New Shepard rocket.
New Shepard system on the pad ahead of NS-19 launch
The Blue Origin broadcast showed an early-morning view of the New Shepard system sitting ready on the pad, ahead of the planned liftoff of the NS-19 mission later this morning.
Crew emerges from training center
The NS-19 crew just emerged from the training center to get into their vehicle that will transport them to the launch pad.
Crew driving to launch pad
The six members of the NS-19 crew, including "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan, is now driving to the launch pad. Also in one of the vehicles is Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who flew to space July 20 as part of the debut crew launch, called NS-16.
NS-19 crew arrives at the launch pad
The NS-19 crew is now at Blue Origin's Launch Pad One in Van Horn, Texas, getting ready to board the New Shepard spacecraft for launch.
Crew begins walk up launch tower
The six-member NS-19 Blue Origin crew is beginning to ascend the launch tower to the New Shepard spacecraft.
Crew begins New Shepard spacecraft ingress
The six-member NS-19 crew is beginning ingress of the New Shepard spacecraft.
Hatch closes to the New Shepard spacecraft
The six members of the Blue Origin NS-19 crew are now inside the New Shepard spacecraft, the RSS First Step, with the hatch closed.
'Star Trek' pendant flying on New Shepard
Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, will be flying with a pendant fashioned after the "Long Live and Prosper" sign made famous on "Star Trek." The pendant is a personal item of Julie Nimoy, daughter of Leonard Nimoy (Spock on "The Original Series.") The elder Nimoy invented the sign in the 1960s and was known to sign off on his tweets with "LLAP" before his death in 2015.
'The Original Six'
Blue Origin is starting to refer to the NS-19 crew as "The Original Six" in its broadcast. This is the first six-person crew to climb on board a New Shepard flight, but the moniker has older origins than that.
"The Original Seven" was a nickname sometimes used for the Mercury 7, which is the name for the first seven astronauts selected by NASA in 1959. Alan Shepard was among those first NASA astronauts selected, and became the first of the group to fly to space in 1961. His daughter Laura Shepard Churchley is part of the NS-19 crew, flying on board a spacecraft named after her father.
'The capsule is ready to fly'
At T-13 minutes, the New Shepard spacecraft is now "escape enabled," which means the escape system is active and the rocket is ready to fly. We also saw the launch tower slightly move away from the rocket, during the broadcast.
New launch time of 10:01 a.m. EDT
We just heard the final go-no go poll from Blue Origin's Mission Control for launch, saying that the flight is go.
After a few extra minutes of holds, the new launch time for the New Shepard NS-19 mission is forecast to be 10:01 a.m. EDT (9:01 a.m. local time in Van Horn, Texas or 1501 GMT).
T-5 minutes to launch
We are now T-5 minutes from launching the Blue Origin NS-19 mission.
T-1 minute to launch
The Blue Origin NS-19 mission is now only 60 seconds from launch. The access bridge has retracted for the launch. "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan was visible in the window on the broadcast.
LIFTOFF of the Blue Origin NS-19 mission with six people on board, including "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan.
Main engine cutoff
Main engine cutoff just happened on the NS-19 mission. The crew is continuing their spaceflight and the rocket will soon be attempting an autonomous landing.
'Check this out!'
The spacecraft has separated from its rocket and we can hear the NS-19 crew exclaiming about the view in the broadcast, including the words, "Check this out!"
New Shepard rocket returns to Earth, crew continues spaceflight
The New Shepard rocket just touched down safely for landing. The six-person crew, riding in the RSS First Step spacecraft, is continuing the spaceflight as planned.
Crew touches down under parachute
The six-person Blue Origin NS-19 crew, including "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan, has arrived safely on Earth after descending in the spacecraft under its parachutes. We heard cries of "Hit it!" in the spacecraft in the moments before landing.
Crew awaits recovery with thumbs-up
The Blue Origin NS-19 crew is awaiting recovery as helicopters arrive at the site near Van Horn, Texas. We've seen a few members giving thumbs-up from their windows, on the broadcast.
Crew emerges from New Shepard spacecraft
The Blue Origin NS-19 crew is now coming out of the New Shepard spacecraft, after landing in the desert near Van Horn, Texas. Family, friends, at least one film crew and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos are joining the recovery teams in welcoming the six crew members back to Earth, following the brief suborbital mission.
NS-19 crew receives Blue Origin astronaut pins
The crew is safely out of the spacecraft and has received their Blue Origin astronaut pins from founder Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin's NS-19 crew back on Earth
Blue Origin has concluded its livestream of the NS-19 mission, now that all six people have returned to Earth. Our wrap story will be posted shortly, as well as photos and more from the mission.
In the meantime, you can see a replay of the launch and landing at the top of this page and here's a full replay of Blue Origin's entire webcast. And check out some early photos from the mission above.
Official NS-19 flight statistics released
Blue Origin has released some of the official statistics about the NS-19 flight, which is the third crewed mission by the company. You can read our full wrap story here.
Per Blue Origin:
- Official launch time was 10:00:42 a.m. EST (9 a.m. local time in Van Horn, Texas or 1500 GMT) on Saturday (Dec. 11).
- The mission elapsed time was 10 minutes, 13 seconds.
- The maximum ascent velocity was 2,244 mph (3,611 km/h).
- The booster reached an apogee of 347,231 ft (106 km) above ground level.
- The crew capsule reached an apogee of 347,580 ft (106 km) above ground level.
A final look inside Blue Origin's NS-19 flight
Blue Origin has released a short video of what Michael Strahan and his crew experienced in space during their 10-minute launch into space on New Shepard NS-19 rocket mission.
In a 45-second video, you can see Strahan and the five other space tourists float weightlessness, gaze out New Shepard's huge windows and play with tiny footballs as they float around.
"Oh my goodness sakes, this is heaven!" exclaimed crew member Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, in the video.
That will wrap up our coverage of Blue Origin's NS-19 space tourist flight. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you again for NS-20.
"We did it!" Strahan cheers in the video.
Strahan said after the launch that he want's to go back to space after getting a taste of suborbital spaceflight.