Blue Origin Returns to Crewed Spaceflight After 2 Years

Blue Origin Returns to Crewed Spaceflight After 2 Years
Blue Origin Returns to Crewed Spaceflight After 2 Years

Blue Origin returned to crewed spaceflight after a nearly two-year hiatus, carrying six adventurers including a former Air Force pilot who was denied the chance to be America's first Black astronaut decades ago.

It marked the first human launch for Jeff Bezos' space company since a rocket mishap in 2022 left rival Virgin Galactic as the sole operator in the suborbital tourism market. Among the passengers was 90-year-old sculptor Ed Dwight, who became the oldest person ever to reach space.

Dwight was on track to join NASA's astronaut corps in the 1960s before being controversially rejected. "This is a life-changing experience, everybody needs to do this," he exclaimed after the roughly 11-minute up-and-down flight from Blue Origin's West Texas facility.

The NS-25 mission was Blue Origin's seventh crewed flight aboard its reusable New Shepard rocket system, named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space. In total, the company has now flown 37 people to the edge of space over 100 kilometers high.

The launch came after Blue Origin implemented corrective measures following an uncrewed rocket failure in September 2022 caused by an overheating engine nozzle. This liftoff appeared to go smoothly, though one of the capsule's three parachutes malfunctioned during landing, potentially resulting in a harder touchdown.

A company spokesperson stressed the capsule's redundancies, saying it "is designed to safely land with one parachute." They confirmed "the overall mission was a success."

Bezos himself flew on Blue Origin's inaugural crewed launch in 2021. A few months later, actor William Shatner, who played a space traveler on Star Trek, became the world's oldest astronaut at age 90 -- a record now claimed by Dwight.

The only person older to travel to space was John Glenn, who orb