VAN HORN, Texas – Blue Origin sent another round of tourists to space Thursday during its fourth human spaceflight.
Six people were aboard the New Shepard capsule used during the NS-20 mission from the company’s facility in Van Horn, Texas. The launch was set to begin at 7:20 a.m. Central, but it was put on hold for about a half-hour. The launch eventually happened just before 9 a.m. Central. The reusable rocket landed back in Van Horn about 6 minutes later, and the crew returned to the surface about 2 minutes after that.
"That was an out-of-body experience," said Jim Kitchen, one of the tourists.
"It can't be put into words," said George Nield, another of the tourists.
This was the fourth human spaceflight for the company since the first with its founder Bezos last July.
About the tourists
Five of the people inside the capsule are customers who purchased seats from the company founded by Jeff Bezos. One of the passengers is a senior Blue Origin staff member who is considered the "architect of the New Shepard system."
Gary Lai, Senior Director and Chief Architect of New Shepard, joined the New Shepard 20 flight manifest after "Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson could not launch due to scheduling conflicts.
The NS-20 mission includes husband and wife Sharon and Marc Hagle of Central Florida, Party America CEO and angel investor Marty Allen, University of North Carolina business professor Jim Kitchen and George Nield, the former associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
Marc Hagle is the CEO of Tricor International, a property development company that owns more than 17.4 million square feet of real estate across the U.S. Sharon Hagle founded SpaceKids Global, a STEAM education nonprofit designed to inspire young girls. The couple were early investors with Blue Origin's competitor Virgin Galactic and even purchased seats to fly on Virgin's SpaceShipTwo but have not flown yet.