For thousands of years, when humans were tethered to the Earth, we looked to the sky and dreamed of flight. When we achieved that, we looked higher; setting our sights on the final frontier. After decades of research and sending scientists out among the stars, that dream of reaching beyond our world can be realized by a new group: Bored rich people.
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s pet project for sightseeing tours in space, is gearing up for another celebrity launch. This time, the “honorary guests” are Good Morning America host and former NFL player Michael Strahan, and Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space. No word on whether Elena Yurievna Gagarina will be getting comped tickets on a future flight.
Strahan and Churchley will be joined by four paying customers, meaning the flight will be Blue Origin’s first to carry a full crew of six. Blue Origin’s site definitively uses the word “astronaut” for the passengers, but the FAA emphatically does not. Maybe they’re less “crew,” and more “cargo.”
The flight was originally intended to launch yesterday, December 8, but was delayed due to high winds at the launch site. Its new scheduled start is Saturday, December 11, at 9:45 am Eastern time. While not the worst flight delay in history, I hope none of the passengers had a connecting flight they were trying to make. Maybe Blue Origin can spring for a couple nights at the ISS for anyone waiting to transfer.
The flight will be streamed live at Blue Origin’s site, where you can also buy merchandise celebrating other people briefly crossing the 62-mile-high threshold of space in a vehicle over which they have no control. It reminds me a bit of cutting through the corner of a state on a road trip, just to cross it off your list. Though, I’m not sure where Strahan will be putting the pin on his map when he gets back home.