Blue Origin’s sixth crewed space flight is in the books.
The company’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle carried six people to the final frontier this morning (Aug. 4), including some first-timers in space.
New Shepard took off from Blue Origin’s The West Texas location at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1357 GMT) and returned to Earth about 10 minutes later. Although the mission was brief, the crew members left with memories that will last a lifetime.
“Woo-hoo! We’re not going to die. Our poor families,” joked one of the passengers as the New Shepard vehicle descended safely under its parachutes in the Texas desert.
In photos: Blue Origin’s 1st passenger launch of New Shepard with Jeff Bezos
The six on board were Coby Cotton, one of the founders of the popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect. Mário Ferreira and Sara Sabry, who became the first people from Portugal and Egypt, respectively, to reach space. technology pioneer Clint Kelly III; telecommunications executive (not former NFL quarterback) Steve Young; and Vanessa O’Brien.
NS-22 made O’Brien the first woman ever to complete the “extreme trifecta of explorers,” according to a Blue Origin mission description (opens in new tab). Now he has reached space, climbed the world’s highest mountain (Everest) and descended to the deepest point of the ocean (the Pacific’s Challenger Deep).
Cotton and Sabry didn’t have to pay for their ride today. Their positions were funded by the non-profit organizations MoonDAO and Space for Humanity, respectively.
MoonDAO wants to decentralize access to space, with the long-term goal of creating “a self-sustaining, self-governing colony on the moon that will serve as a launch pad for humanity to explore the universe,” according to on the organization’s website (opens in new tab). Cotton won a MoonDAO competition to board NS-22.
Space for Humanity (opens in new tab) is working to increase our species’ access to space. Part of the agency’s strategy includes sponsoring “citizen astronauts,” a group of extraordinary people who will do their best to share with those of us who have never left Earth the life-changing perspective that spaceflight imparts . Sabry is the second civilian astronaut to fly with Blue Origin, following crew member Katya Echazarreta launched on NS-21 in June.
Ferreira, Kelly, Young and O’Brien apparently paid their own way into space today. But it is not clear how much they had to pay. Blue Origin did not disclose New Shepard ticket prices. For comparison, Richard Branson Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin’s main competitor in the suborbital space tourism industry, currently charges $450,000 for a seat on its VSS Unity space plane. (VSS Unity has flown into space four times but is not yet fully operational.)
You can read more about six of today’s spaceships in our The story of the NS-22 crew members.
NS-22 was the sixth human spaceflight for Blue Origin. The first, in July 2021, sent the founder of the company Jeff Bezos into space with his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and student Oliver Daemen. New Shepard flew two more crewed flights in 2021 and now has three of those in 2022.
New Shepard is a reusable, fully automated rocket-capsule combination. The rocket returns to Earth for a vertical landing near the launch site, and the capsule descends under parachutes shortly thereafter. Passengers in the vehicle can see the curve of the Earth against the darkness of space and experience a few minutes lack of gravity.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or up Facebook (opens in new tab).