Blue Origin is finally ready to resume its space tourism program after a nine-month pause. The rocket company owned by Jeff Bezos was grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after a cargo-only mission failed in September 2022. New Shepard, the rocket used for the mission, is also the vehicle used to fly paying customers to suborbital space.
At an industry event on June 6, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said the company could resume New Shepard crew launches “within the next few weeks,” pending approval from the FAA.
The rocket company returned to the spotlight this week also because one of its former customers, billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, went missing on an OceanGate submersible in the North Atlantic on June 18 during an undersea trip to see the shipwreck of the Titanic.
Harding flew to suborbital space on a New Shepard flight in June 2022. Blue Origin has to date launched 30 other people into space, including its founder Bezos, a few company employees, and many celebrities and business figures. One person enjoyed the experience so much that he flew twice within one year.
Every Blue Origin passenger, in the order of launch date:
- Jeff Bezos (July 20, 2021): cofounder of Amazon and Blue Origin.
- Mark Bezos (July 20, 2021): Jeff Bezos’s younger half-brother. Mark Bezos ran his own advertising agency in the early 2000s before becoming an executive at nonprofits backed by Jeff Bezos, including the Bezos Family Foundation. He is also an early investor in Amazon.
- Wally Funk (July 20, 2021): American aviation pioneer. Funk became the oldest person to go to space when she flew with Blue Origin at age 82, breaking a record held by NASA astronaut John Glenn for 23 years.
- Oliver Daemen (July 20, 2021): Dutch physics student and the son of Joes Daemen, the CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, a hedge fund managing $8 billion in assets. Joes Daemen bought a seat on Blue Origin through an online auction but couldn’t make the trip due to a scheduling conflict. He reportedly paid $28 million for the flight.
- Chris Boshuizen (October 13, 2021): Cofounder of Planet Labs, an Earth-imaging satellite company based in San Francisco.
- Glen de Vries (October 13, 2021): Cofounder and co-CEO of Medidata Solutions, a software company providing solutions for clinical trials.
- William Shatner (October 13, 2021): Actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek television series and movies. Shatner broke Funk’s record as the oldest person in space when he flew with Blue Origin at age 90.
- Audrey Powers (October 13, 2021): Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations.
- Lane Bess (December 11, 2021): Tech investor and founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory. Before becoming an investor, Bess held executive roles at AT&T, Trend Micro and Palo Alto Networks.
- Cameron Bess (December 11, 2021): Content creator and the son of Lane Bess.
- Evan Dick (December 11, 2021 and June 4, 2022): Retired engineer and tech investor. He is a managing member of Dick Holdings, an investment firm. He he has flown with Blue Origin twice—in December 2021 and June 2022.
- Laura Shepard Churchley (December 11, 2021): Daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard (after whom the New Shepard rocket is named). She serves as the chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit providing mentoring for college students and STEM scholars.
- Michael Strahan (December 11, 2021): Good Morning America co-anchor and former NFL player.
- Dylan Taylor (December 11, 2021): Investor and CEO of Voyager Space Holdings, a space exploration company. He is also the founder of Space for Humanity, a space nonprofit.
- Marty Allen (March 31, 2022): Startup investor and turnaround executive. Allen is known for successfully restructuring struggling retailers, including Party America and California Closet Company.
- Marc Hagle (March 31, 2022): CEO of Tricor International, a residential and commercial property development firm based in Florida.
- Sharon Hagle (March 31, 2022): Wife of Marc Hagle and founder of SpaceKids Global, an education nonprofit focusing on encouraging elementary students to pursue careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fields.
- Jim Kitchen (March 31, 2022): Business professor at the University of North Carolina and entrepreneur. Kitchen is a Gold Member of the Travelers’ Century Club, a club for people who have visited 100 or more countries. He has travelled to all 193 United Nations recognized countries.
- George Nield (March 31, 2022): Former FAA administrator and president of Commercial Space Technologies, a firm specializing in space industry consulting and mission brokerage.
- Gary Lai (March 31, 2022): Chief architect of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
- Katya Echazarreta (June 4, 2022): Mexican electrical engineer and host of a popular science show on YouTube. Echazarreta is one of the seven women featured in toy maker Mattel’s newest Barbie doll lineup released in March.
- Hamish Harding (June 4, 2022): Chairman of Action Aviation, Dubai-based aircraft operations company, and founder of Action Group, a private equity investment company. He holds three adventure-related Guinness World Records. (Harding was declared dead on June 23, along with four other passengers on the OceanGate submersible, at the age of 58.)
- Victor Correa Hespanha (June 4, 2022): Brazilian civil production engineer. Hespanha won his Blue Origin ticket from a lottery sponsored by the Crypto Space Agency, an organization funded entirely by the NFT community through mint proceeds.
- Jaison Robinson (June 4, 2022): Founder of JJM Investments, a U.K. commercial and residential real estate company, and cofounder of Dream Variations Ventures, a private investment firm.
- Victor Vescovo (June 4, 2022): Cofounder of Insight Equity, a private equity investment firm based in New York.
- Coby Cotton (August 4, 2022): Cofounder of popular sports entertainment YouTube channel “Dude Perfect.” His Blue Origin ticket was sponsored by crypto collective MoonDAO.
- Mário Ferreira (August 4, 2022): Portuguese entrepreneur with business ventures in tourism, hotel, real estate and photography sectors, among others. He is the first person from Portugal to go in space.
- Vanessa O’Brien (August 4, 2022): British-American mountaineer. She holds the Guinness World Record as the first woman to reach extremes on land (Mt. Everest), sea (Challenger Deep) and air (pass the Kármán line with the Blue Origin flight).
- Clint Kelly III (August 4, 2022): Retired engineer at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His Autonomous Land Vehicle project, founded in the 1980s, contributed to the development of self-driving technology.
- Sara Sabry (August 4, 2022): Engineer and founder of Deep Space Initiative, a nonprofit focusing on research in space. She is the first person from Egypt to fly to space.
- Steve Young (August 4, 2022): Restauranteur and former CEO of his family business, Young’s Communications, a telecommunications installation company. He is the owner of Pineapples, a restaurant in Melbourne, Florida.