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No Big Names In Soon To Be Launched Blue Origin's 4th Astro-Tourism Flight

No Big Names In Soon To Be Launched Blue Origin's 4th Astro-Tourism Flight
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space tourism enterprise that offers short suborbital thrill rides to well-heeled thrill-seekers and celebrity visitors, was set to launch its fourth commercial flight on Tuesday from the company's launch site in rural west Texas.
Blue Origin's New Shepard spaceship was set to launch outside Van Horn, Texas, at 8:30 a.m. CDT, with six would-be citizen astronauts strapped inside the crew cabin atop the fully autonomous launch vehicle, which stands nearly six floors tall.
But, unlike the passengers on Blue Origin's first three commercial flights, which included "Star Trek" star William Shatner, morning TV personality Michael Strahan, and even Bezos himself, none of the passengers on the newest journey are anywhere close to being famous.
"Saturday Night Live" comic Pete Davidson, the most recent household figure confirmed as a non-paying promotional guest, stepped out earlier this month after the scheduled launch was postponed for six days from its initial March 23 date to give time for more pre-flight tests.
Davidson, 28, the boyfriend of celebrity TV star Kim Kardashian, was replaced on the next "crew" manifest by seasoned Blue Origin designer Gary Lai, the architect of the New Shepard reusable launch system, a few days later.
Lai is taking advantage of the opportunity to fly for free. Angel investor Marty Allen, real estate expert Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon Hagle, entrepreneur and University of North Carolina professor Jim Kitchen, and George Nield, founder-president of Commercial Space Technologies, are among the five paying customers already disclosed.
According to biographical material from Blue Origin, Kitchen's voyage to the final frontier is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to travel that has carried him to all 193 United Nations-recognized countries.
The entire flight on Tuesday is projected to take just over 10 minutes from takeoff to touchdown. Before their capsule falls back to Earth for a parachute landing on the desert floor, the crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness at the very pinnacle of their suborbital trip, some 350,000 feet (106,680 metres) high.
Last July, Bezos, the millionaire founder of online retailer Amazon, joined Blue Origin's inaugural crewed mission to the edge of space.
He was joined by his brother, Mark Bezos, as well as Wally Funk, an elderly female aviator and an 18-year-old Dutch high school graduate.
Shatner, who became the oldest person to fly to space at the age of 90, "Good Morning America" co-host and retired NFL star Strahan, and the eldest daughter of pioneering astronaut Alan Shepard, for whom Blue Origin's spacecraft is named, were among the later passengers.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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