Blue Origin to Launch Historic Space Tourism Flight with Diverse Passenger Lineup

Houston, Texas – Blue Origin is gearing up to launch its first space tourism flight with passengers since last year’s uncrewed rocket explosion. Scheduled for May 19, six individuals, including the first black American astronaut candidate at age 90, will be on board the New Shepard flight from West Texas. This historic flight marks a significant milestone for space tourism and the democratization of space travel.

The seat for Ed Dwight, the first black American astronaut candidate, has been sponsored by Space for Humanity, a non-profit organization dedicated to making space travel more accessible. The other passengers have purchased their seats, with tickets reportedly costing up to $1.25 million each. Blue Origin, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, announced that the NS-25 flight will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas on May 19.

In September, the NS-23 mission experienced an engine nozzle failure, causing the rocket to overheat and explode. However, the crew capsule escape system worked as intended, safely bringing the payloads back to the ground with a parachute-assisted landing. Following the incident, flights were temporarily grounded, with a cargo-only flight launched in December.

Before the mishap, Blue Origin had successfully flown 31 passengers on space tourism flights since commencing commercial operations in 2021, including Jeff Bezos himself. These space tourism flights offer passengers a 10-minute experience, where the spacecraft reaches 106 kilometers above the ground before the reusable booster lands back at the launch site, and the capsule descends under parachutes and retro engines.

Ed Dwight, the pioneering astronaut candidate, was selected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 for elite Air Force flight training, with the potential of joining NASA’s astronaut corps. Despite facing discrimination and never being selected by NASA, Dwight went on to become an entrepreneur and sculptor, creating over 130 public works that celebrate black history in the US and Canada.

While the early days of NASA were marked by discrimination and challenges for individuals from marginalized groups, many overcame obstacles to make invaluable contributions to the space program. Guion Bluford, the first black American to fly to space in 1983, exemplifies the resilience and determination of these trailblazers. The upcoming Blue Origin space tourism flight will carry a diverse group of passengers, each with unique backgrounds and accomplishments, showcasing the continued diversification of the space industry.