More Cryptonauts to be Announced

MoonDAO is set to announce the winners of trips to space on Saturday. The company is running a contest in which winners mint a non-fungible token (NFT) that essentially serves as a ticket in a lottery. MoonDAO said it has purchased several tickets from Blue Origin for a suborbital flight aboard New Shepard.

MoonDAO is not alone in running contests for space trips using cryptocurrency. A 28-year old civil production engineer from Brazil named Victor Correa Hespanha claimed the title of the world’s first cryptonaut when he flew to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle last Saturday. To reach space, Hespanha bought a non-fungible token (NFT) for a contest run by the Crypto Space Agency.

The Space Coin Project has launched a similar project to launch cryptonauts into space. You can read more about these efforts here.

One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for Cryptokind.

A Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for Cryptokind

The world’s first cryptonaut, Victor Correa Hespanha, gets a high five as he emerges from the New Shepard capsule after his spaceflight. (Credit: Blue Origin)

There’s a new space agency and category of space explorer. Earth and space will never be the same.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

First, there were astronauts. Then billionauts and millionauts. And now, there’s…cryptonauts!?

A 28-year old civil production engineer from Brazil named Victor Correa Hespanha claimed the title of the first cryptonaut when he flew to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle last Saturday. Although his time above the Karman line lasted mere minutes, Victor was able to claim to be the second Brazilian to reach space.

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Richard Branson Gets His Astronaut Wings, Aims to Eliminate Asterisk* Next Time

Unity 22 crew: Michael Masucci, Colin Bennett, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla, David Mackay and Beth Moses at the 37th Space Symposium. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
  • Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
  • FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.

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Roscosmos Looks to Make Space Tourist Training Even Shorter

The three new residents aboard the station (front row, from left) are Russian actress Yulia Peresild, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Russian Producer Klim Shipenko. In the back, are Expedition 65 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Oleg Novitskiy, Thomas Pesquet, Megan McArthur, Pyotr Dubrov, Mark Vande Hei, and Akihiko Hoshide. (Credit: NASA TV)

TASS reports that it is theoretically possible to reduce the time it takes to train a non-professional astronaut (aka, space tourists or spaceflight participants) to fly to orbit aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to under the current four months. Paying customers used to spend months in training prior to a flight.

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Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

Blue Origin Completes 4th New Shepard Flight with Passengers

New Shepard NS-20 spaceflight participants. Pictured from left to right: Gary Lai, Jim Kitchen, Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle, Marc Hagle, and Dr. George Nield. (Credit: Blue Origin)

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin successfully completed its fourth human spaceflight and 20th overall flight for New Shepard. The astronaut manifest included: Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle, Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, Gary Lai, and Dr. George Nield. 

“Congratulations to our astronauts on today’s mission above the Kármán Line,” said Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President of New Shepard for Blue Origin. “We had the honor of safely flying this crew of six – each person with their own story of mentorship and passion for human spaceflight. We’re looking forward to many more flights this year, and we’re grateful to our astronaut customers for their trust in this amazing team.”  

Blue Origin is planning more crewed and payload flights throughout 2022 and beyond. If you are interested in flying on New Shepard, visit Blue Origin’s website.  

Customers can now purchase commemorative merchandise from today’s mission on the Blue Origin Shop

Former Top Federal Regulator to Fly on Unregulated Spaceship

Jeff Bezos pins Blue Origin astronaut wings on actor William Shatner. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The first three passenger flights of Blue Origin’s New Shepard have been long on symbolism. On the first one, Jeff Bezos invited Wally Funk, who in 1960 was one of 13 women who underwent the same medical checks as the Original Seven Mercury astronauts. NASA wasn’t accepting female pilots at the time, so Funk had to wait 51 years to reach space.

New Shepard’s second flight included starship Capt. James T. Kirk, or more precisely, the actor who played the “Star Trek” captain, William Shatner. The third flight had Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of America’s first astronaut to fly to space, who launched aboard a vehicle named after her father, Alan.

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Blue Origin Delays Suborbital Flight to March 31 Due to Weather

Blue Origin New Shepard NS-20 spaceflight participants. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Launch Update

Due to forecasted high winds during launch and recovery operations on Tuesday, March 29, and Wednesday, March 30, the New Shepard Mission Operations team has made the decision to move the launch of NS-20 to Thursday, March 31.

The team has completed Flight Readiness Review and confirmed the vehicle has met all mission requirements for flight. Astronauts are completing their training, and weather remains the only gating factor.

Live launch coverage of NS-20 begins on BlueOrigin.com at 7:20 am CDT / 12:20 UTC. Follow Blue Origin on Twitter to stay up to date on all mission details.

New Shepard’s Chief Architect to Join Suborbital Flight Next Week

Gary Lai in front of a New Shepard capsule on April 14, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the sixth crew member joining New Shepard’s 20th mission will be Blue Origin’s Gary Lai, New Shepard Chief Architect. Gary joins the previously announced crew, which includes Marty Allen, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield.

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SpaceKids Global Founder Takes Blue Origin Flight to Space to Inspire Millions of Kids

New Shepard NS-20 spaceflight participants. (Credit: Blue Origin)

WINTER PARK, Fla. (SpaceKids Global PR) — SpaceKids Global is proud to announce founder Sharon Hagle will take her first flight into space on March 23 as a member of the fourth crewed flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard. The 11-minute flight will take the six-person crew 62 miles above earth, traveling over three times the speed of sound to float weightless for several minutes. Joining Hagle on the flight will be her husband, Marc Hagle, making them the first married couple to fly to space on a commercial vehicle. 

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Saturday Night Live Star Pete Davidson, Dr. George Nield to Fly on Blue Origin’s 20th Mission

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the crew flying on its upcoming NS-20 flight on March 23 will include Marty Allen, Pete Davidson, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield. 

This mission is the fourth human flight for the New Shepard program and the 20th in its history.  

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New Mexico Seeks to Attract Virgin Galactic’s Manufacturing Facility to Spaceport America

A majority of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. Behind the group is the WhiteKnightTwo mated with SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Updated on March 5 at 8:34 a.m. PST with additional information about space companies located in the Los Angeles area and the benefits of industry clusters to employers and employees.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The state of New Mexico has proposed that Virgin Galactic establish a production facility at Spaceport America, which is where the company plans to begin flying tourists on suborbital space rides later this year. KRQE TV reports:

The New Mexico Economic Development Department says they have a proposal to bring Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing to the Spaceport. Right now, the manufacturing location is in the Mojave desert. Spaceport America has five permanent tenants that are conducting a variety of experiments; including one company that uses laser technology to help land on the moon.

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