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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National Air and Space Museum’s 2022 Michael Collins Trophy Awarded to Wally Funk and the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Team

Wally Funk standing with a U.S. Air Force jet. (Credit: Blue Origin via Smithsonian Magazine)

WASHINGTON, DC (National Air and Space Museum PR) — The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum awards its Michael Collins Trophy annually for Lifetime and Current Achievements. The 2022 recipients are Wally Funk for Lifetime Achievement and the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Team for Current Achievement; they will receive their awards at a ceremony March 24 at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

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FAA Decides Bezos, Branson and Shatner Are Astronauts After All

  • Everyone who exceeds 50 miles by Dec. 31 will receive commercial astronaut wing even if they were just passengers
  • Nobody after that will even if they pilot a ship
  • Agency reverses earlier decision to award wings only to those essential to flight operations/success
  • FAA says this is what was intended all along

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – With the advent of the commercial space tourism era, starting in 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will now recognize individuals who reach space on its website instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. Any individual who is on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch and reaches 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth will be listed on the site. 

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William Shatner to Boldly Go Where No Star Trek Captain Has Gone Before on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced actor William Shatner and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, will fly on board New Shepard NS-18. They will join crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries for the flight which lifts off from Launch Site One on October 12.  

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Blue Origin Announces Two Passengers for Oct. 12; William Shatner Not Mentioned

Chris Boshuizen (left) and Glen de Vries (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced New Shepard’s 18th mission, NS-18, will lift off on Tuesday, October 12, carrying four astronauts to space and back, including Dr. Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, Vice-Chair, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Dassault Systèmes and co-founder, Medidata. The two other astronauts will be announced in the coming days.

[Editor’s Note: TMZ.com reported Star Trek actor William Shatner will be aboard the upcoming flight. There’s been no confirmation of that report.]

Live launch coverage begins on BlueOrigin.com at T-60 minutes. Liftoff is currently targeted for 8:30 am CDT/ 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas. 

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Estes Rockets Launches Blue Origin New Shepard Model Rocket

Video Caption: In 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. A decade later, Alan Shepard walked on the moon. He carved the frontiers of space exploration so that later we could pave the path. It’s with that legacy in mind that the New Shepard came to be.

Blue Origin recently launched the first crew of astronauts aboard the New Shepard rocket. The historic flight brought Wally Funk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and auction winner Oliver Daemen to the ranks of astronauts, and will continue to push the frontiers of manned spaceflight for years to come. Get your own New Shepard for that perfect desktop model or to experience the excitement of launching it for yourself.

Pre-orders open now: https://estesrockets.com/blue-origin-…

Available November 2021

Blue Origin Safely Launches Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and 2 Others on New Shepard Suborbital Flight

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed New Shepard’s first human flight today with four private citizens onboard. The crew included Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, who all officially became astronauts when they passed the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.  

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A Closer Look at Blue Origin’s First Crewed New Shepard Flight with Jeff Bezos & Friends

New Shepard (NS-14) lifts off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Tuesday morning, Jeff Bezos and his three companions — Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen — will be aboard the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle. The flight will include the youngest (Daemen), oldest (Funk) and richest (Jeff Bezos) people ever to fly to space.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Set to Fly with Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk on July 20

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — New Shepard is go for launch. On July 20, Blue Origin will fly its 16th New Shepard flight to space, and its first with astronauts on board. The launch will be broadcast live on BlueOrigin.com beginning at 6:30 am CDT / 11:30 UTC. Liftoff is currently targeted for 8:00 am CDT / 13:00 UTC.

Following the launch, a live press conference with the astronauts will be broadcast on BlueOrigin.com

Blue Origin’s Launch Site One is in a remote location in the West Texas desert and there are no on-site public viewing areas in the vicinity of the launch site. The Texas Department of Transportation will be closing a portion of State Highway 54 adjacent to the launch site and will not allow spectators on the closed portion of the road during the launch. 

Follow @BlueOrigin on Twitter and sign up on BlueOrigin.com to stay up to date on all mission details. 

-Gradatim Ferociter 

Editor’s Note: The FAA also approved Blue Origin this week to carry passengers on New Shepard. So maybe we’ll finally find out who is paying $29.68 million ($28 million plus 5% fee) to fly above the Karman line (100 km/62.1 miles) with Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark and aviatrix Wally Funk.