Shaffer studying journalism and international affairs at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She hails from the Carmel Valley.
“Launch. Land plots. Repetition.” That’s the motto of Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that takes civilians to the edge of space.
While the so-called “billionaire space race” has generated a lot of controversy, the accessibility it has provided deserves recognition.
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin, a pilot and cosmonaut of the Soviet Union, became the first person to fly into space. Sixty-one years later, just over 600 people joined.
Despite years of preparation, it wasn’t until 2021 that the door opened to admit more participants. Space tourism refers to human space travel for recreational purposes. Space tourists are ordinary people and they visit space without any specific boundaries outside of space itself.
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While there is certainly industry competition between the top three private aerospace companies — Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Bezos’ Blue Origin — Virgin Galactic has since suspended its space tourism efforts to make repairs, while SpaceX is currently giving away priority to orbital flights. so Blue Origin dominates the suborbital landscape with its New Shepard rocket, named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space and the fifth to walk on the moon.
The flight lasts approximately 11 minutes, but even in this short period of time, the participants consider their experience to be completely transformational.
After flying into space, Blue Origin space tourist Glen de Vries told me, “I still wake up every day figuring out exactly how to articulate what I experienced and how I feel it has changed me.” De Vries, who passed away, was part of the crew of NS-18, Blue Origin’s second civilian space flight, which launched on October 31, 2021, with crew members that included Star Trek actor William Shatner, Blue Origin’s deputy. President of Missions and Flights Audrey Powers and co-founder of Planet Labs, a satellite-based Earth imaging company based in San Francisco, Chris Boschuizen. Bezos himself was on the first flight, which started on July 20, 2021.
On the third flight on December 11, 2021, six new people were named Blue Origin space tourists, including broadcaster and former professional football player Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Cherkley, Alan Shepard’s daughter. Blue Origin’s fourth flight took place on March 31, marking another successful manned flight for the company.
While space experts see these missions as a huge step forward for the aerospace community, many other people aren’t ready to celebrate. Per…