On Monday Blue Origin announced some details of its 18th New Shepherd flight, NS-18, including two crew members who will be aboard. The mission is set to blast off October 12 as Blue Origin’s second human flight, following Jeff Bezos’ trip to space back in July.
New Shepard has flown many times, and Bezos’ flight proved the readiness of his rocket to carry humans. This next crew is another set of individuals who are not professionally-trained astronauts. Blue Origin is set on paving the way for space tourism – something the company sees as a key part of its future plan of putting millions of working people in space.
The first two crew members announced today include Dr. Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of the clinical software platform Medidata.
Dr. Chris Boshuizen was an engineer at NASA between 2008 and 2012, working on the NASA Phonesat team. That program tested whether a standard smartphone could work as a nanosatellite. While there, he also co-founded Planet Labs, a company that went on to deploy more than 450 nanosatellites that image the entire globe daily to monitor changes and pinpoint trends.
“This is a fulfillment of my greatest childhood dream,” said Dr. Chris Boshuizen. “More importantly, though, I see this flight as an opportunity to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM and catalyze the next generation of space explorers. After all, our future of life in space is in their very capable hands.”
Joining him, is Glen de Vries. He’s currently the Vice-Chair of Life Sciences & Healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, a French software company on Fortune’s top 50 list, that specializes in 3D software used for product design, simulation, manufacturing, and more. Vries is also a private pilot.
“Playing a part in advancing the space industry and one day making those resources and that understanding available to everyone, is an incredible opportunity. I’ve been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true,” said Glen de Vries.
Chris and Glen will share the cabin with two others that have yet to be announced by Blue Origin. The trip will take them above the Kármán Line, the 62-mile (100 km) point above sea level that – by one definition – is where space begins. The total trip will last about 10-12 minutes as the crew softly lands in the stark Texas desert after experiencing zero-g for around three minutes.
While Blue Origin may not have announced the final two members, TMZ reports that William Shatner will be flying on New Shepard in October. While Blue Origin and William Shatner have not commented on the claims, this report launched speculation that Captain Kirk himself may have won the $28 million ticket to space on the first flight, before delaying due to scheduling conflicts. If this report proves true, William Shatner will be the older person to fly to space, at 90 years old, taking the title away from Wally Funk (82), who flew in New Shepard alongside Bezos.
If all goes according to plan, the launch will begin at 9:30 a.m. EST (8:30 a.m. CST) on October 12, from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Texas. As with the previous mission, NS-18 will be live-streamed.