Space exploration company Blue Origin completed its third human spaceflight Saturday morning in Van Horn, Texas.
Good Morning America host and former NFL star Michael Strahan was among the crew of six that completed their mission at 8 a.m. MST.
The Washington state-based company has now flown 14 people to space from its launch site in West Texas.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, was on hand Saturday in Van Horn providing words of encouragement for the crew before take-off and after landing. Bezos stepped down from Amazon in July and is devoting more time to Blue Origin and has called it his “most important work”.
Four of the crew were paying passengers, while Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley were invited as company guests. The company has not disclosed how much the customers paid for the launch.
“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,” said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith.
The New Shepard rocket capsule ascended at 2,244 mph and stayed aloft 10 minutes 13 seconds.
The launch had been delayed from Thursday due to high winds in the area. The weather on Saturday was calm and clear, with temperatures in the high 30s as the rocket took off.
Van Horn hotels were full before the launch. Spectators, including journalists and Blue Origin staff, huddled around space heaters to shake off the overnight desert chill while waiting for the launch.
Crew includes daughter of Alan Shepard, first parent-child pair to go to space
The New Shepard is named for Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space. His eldest daughter, Laura Shepard Churchley, got to experience space travel for herself on Saturday. Before the launch, she said she was proud to “be following in his footsteps.”
Michael Strahan held his head in disbelief after exiting the capsule and told Bezos, “It’s unreal,” he said. “I want to go back, I want to be up longer.”
He embraced Laura Shepard Churchley and she exclaimed, “You were always there!”
The six crew members were awarded astronaut wings after exiting the capsule.
Along with Strahan and Shepard Churchley, four passengers paid for their seats: space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, entrepreneur Lane Bess and Cameron Bess. Lane and Cameron and the first parent-child pair to go to space together.
The crew arrived at the beginning of the week for a three-day training. With the launch delayed two days, they waited at the Astronaut Village. Strahan joined in his usual Thursday Night Football commentator role, streaming in from Van Horn. He also provided updates to Good Morning America.
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