The trip will be short. It’s a round trip of approximately 10 minutes that will take off as the rocket fires its engines and reaches a speed of more than three times the speed of sound as it propels the crew capsule more than 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. Passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and sweeping views of the planet below, before gravity pulls them back to Earth and the capsule deploys parachutes to ensure a gentle landing near the launch site.
It’s not immediately clear how much stress the customers who have paid for this task have been, and Blue Origin hasn’t revealed a fixed ticket price. But we do know that at least one passenger won an auction to buy an airline ticket alongside Bezos last year for $28 million. (However, this passenger did not end up flying on Bezos’ flight.) We also know that another player in the sub-orbital space tourism game, Virgin Galactic, is selling their seats for $450,000 a piece. Whether commuters pay a few hundred thousand dollars or a few million, it’s safe to say that these tasks won’t be within reach of the average consumer anytime soon.
Here’s a look at some of the upcoming space tourists who are scheduled to blast off on the Blue Origin mission on Thursday.
Lay, the only non-paying passenger on Thursday’s sub-orbital flight, was among Blue Origin’s first 20 employees after joining the company in 2004.
Recognized as a “New Shepard system engineer,” he holds multiple patents related to the launch vehicle, according to a statement from Blue Origin. During his time as an undergraduate at Cornell University, Lai studied under the supervision of prolific The late astronomer Carl Sagan.
Marty Allen is an angel investor and former CEO of a party supply store and closet design company.
“I’ve loved flying since I was a kid,” he said. “I used to make rockets and play with them as a kid. I’ve always dreamed of space.”
Allen added that each passenger got a small bag to take on the sub-tropical flight, and revealed that he packs his car with a 60-foot-by-10-foot American flag to bring with him on the trip.
“I’m going to take it with me, and when I get home, I’m going to put up a really big mast over my property and fly that flag,” Allen told local news outlets.
Jim Kitchen is an entrepreneur and faculty member at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler School of Business, where he teaches classes on how to start “social entrepreneurship and fundraising projects.” According to his university biography.
While he had already seen a lot of Earth from below, he said he was really excited to see the planet from above.
“Given everything that’s happening in the world right now, seeing this boundless planet from space is really important to me,” Kitchen said.
George Nield is President and Founder of Commercial Space Technologies, A company that aims to promote and facilitate commercial space activities. He previously worked as an associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, according to Blue Origin, where he was responsible for licensing and regulating commercial launch activities.
While most of his career has been spent on the regulatory side of the fledgling space tourism sector, Nield is excited about finally being able to experience the “magic” of flight firsthand.
Sharon Hagel and her husband, Mark Hagel, will take off on a flight Thursday — making them the first couple to travel together on a commercial space flight.
It is SpaceKids Global, a non-profit organization that works to encourage students – especially young girls – to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (so-called STEAM programmes). The organization hosts national essay writing competitions Speaking posts are organized in schools with the aim of inspiring the next generation to pursue careers in the space industry.
Mark Hagel is the CEO of a residential and commercial real estate development company headquartered in the Orlando, Florida area.
Now that the couple’s dream of trying spaceflight is starting to pay off, Mark Hagel told Florida Today, “I can’t even tell you how excited we are.”
“We are very proud to be able to do this,” he added. “And we really enjoy it.”
“Devoted student. Bacon advocate. Beer scholar. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot. Typical coffee enthusiast.”