It was yet again a picture perfect day in West Texas as the Blue Origin New Shepard NS-19 flight launched six new astronauts to space.
The crew of the NS-19 mission, the third crewed New Shepard flight, included Laura Shepard Churchley, Michael Strahan, Evan Dick, Dylan Taylor, Cameron Bess, and Lane Bess.
Laura Shepard Churchley is the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard the first American to fly into space and fifth human on the Moon. Michael Strahan is a former professional football player and TV personality. Both flew as guests of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
The other four crew members were paying customers. Evan Dick is professional pilot, Dylan Taylor is the CEO of Voyager Space and a philanthropist of Space for Humanity, Cameron Bessand and Lane Bess are father and son.
The flight reached an altitude of just over 107 km (351,223 ft).
Bob Smith, CEO Blue Origin said in a statement after the flight that “we had a great flight today. This was our sixth flight in what has been a great year for the New Shepard program. We flew 14 astronauts to space, flew a NASA payload flight that tested lunar landing sensors and completed our certification test flights. I want to thank our payload customers, our astronauts and, of course, Team Blue for these many important accomplishments. I am so proud to be part of this dedicated and hard-working team that ensures that each and every flight of New Shepard is safe and reliable. And it’s fun to say that this is just the beginning.”
The crew of NS-19 all received their Commercial Space Astronaut Wings, the last to do so as the FAA is ending that program at the end of this year.
“With the advent of the commercial space tourism era, starting in 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will now recognize individuals who reach space on its website instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. Any individual who is on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch and reaches 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth will be listed on the site.”
FAA Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith said “The U.S. commercial human spaceflight industry has come a long way from conducting test flights to launching paying customers into space. The Astronaut Wings program, created in 2004, served its original purpose to bring additional attention to this exciting endeavor. Now it’s time to offer recognition to a larger group of adventurers daring to go to space.”
The list of 24 recipients of Commercial Space Astronaut wings is available here. With the addition of today’s six astronauts there will be a total of 30 as the program comes to an end.
Watch a replay of the New Shepard NS-19 mission