*** ----> Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space, including oldest astronaut | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Blue Origin flies thrill seekers to space, including oldest astronaut

AFP | Washington, United States

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

After a nearly two year hiatus, Blue Origin flew adventurers to space yesterday including a former Air Force pilot who was denied the chance to be the United States’ first Black astronaut decades ago.

It was the first crewed launch for the enterprise owned and founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos since a rocket mishap in 2022 left rival Virgin Galactic as the sole operator in the fledgling suborbital tourism market.

Six people including the sculptor Ed Dwight, who was on track to become NASA’s first ever astronaut of color in the 1960s before being controversially spurned, launched around 09:36 am local time (1436 GMT) from the Launch Site One base in west Texas, a live feed showed. Dwight -- at 90 years, 8 months and 10 days -- became the oldest person to ever go to space.

“This is a life-changing experience, everybody needs to do this,” he exclaimed after the flight. Dwight added: “I thought I didn’t really need this in my life,” reflecting on his omission from the astronaut corps, which was his first experience with failure as a young man.

“But I lied,” he said with a hearty laugh. Mission NS-25 is the seventh human flight for Blue Origin, which sees short jaunts on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a stepping stone to greater ambitions, including the development of a full-fledged heavy rocket and lunar lander.

To date, the company has flown 31 people aboard New Shepard -- a small, fully reusable rocket system named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.