Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ private space firm, Blue Origin, will send the first ever all-female crew into space in the next year.
Lauren Sanchez, Bezos’ girlfriend, told the Wall Street Journal that she will lead the mission in early 2024.
Identities of the five ladies joining her won’t be revealed until nearer the launch, which is yet to be officially confirmed by the company.
Bezos, who is also the founder and former CEO of Amazon, was aboard the first crewed Blue Origin mission to space on July 20, 2021.
Lauren Sanchez, the girlfriend of Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, told the Wall Street Journal that she will lead the mission in early 2024. Bezos and Sanchez are pictured attending a premiere in Leicester Square, London on August 30, 2022
Blue Origin: The space firm launched by Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos entered the space sector in 2000, two years before Elon Musk formed SpaceX.
Based in Kent, Washington, Blue Origin originally focused on sub-orbital spaceflight services, building cheaper, more reliable and reusable launch vehicles. But this moved gradually from suborbital to orbital flight.
Bezos was aboard the first crewed Blue Origin mission to space on July 20, 2021. It’s since performed another five crewed missions.
The firm currently has two launch vehicles, the suborbital New Shepard, named for the first American in space, Alan Shepard, and New Glenn, named for John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.
Bezos announced Blue Origin is also working on New Armstrong, after the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, although no details have been revealed.
It mirrors plans of NASA, which will send the first female astronauts to the moon in 2025 as part of its Artemis programme.
Sanchez told the WSJ that she is ‘super excited’ and ‘a little nervous’ about going into space.
‘It’s going to be women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Bezos – who divorced his wife in 2019 following an affair with Sanchez – has been ‘very encouraging’ about the mission and is ‘thrilled’ that it’s happening, she added.
‘As much as he wants to go on this flight, I’m going to have to hold him back,’ she said.
‘He’ll be cheering us all on from the sidelines.’
Sanchez is known in the US as a media personality and news anchor, but she’s also a licensed helicopter pilot.
She’s the founder of Black Ops Aviation, a female-owned aerial film and production company.
According to the WSJ, Bezos credits Sanchez for helping him get comfortable in the air again following a helicopter crash in 2003.
Bezos is also in the process of getting his own pilot’s license.
Although Sanchez has no experience as an astronaut, this should not be an issue, as the aim of Blue Origin is to send normal civilians into space.
Bezos wants to pioneer an era of commercialised space travel, although Blue Origin customers are currently having to pay several million dollars for the experience.
According to the firm’s website, crew members can get fully trained for flight in just two days.
Sanchez is known in the states as a media personality and news anchor, but she’s also a trained helicopter pilot. She’s the founder of Black Ops Aviation, a female-owned aerial film and production company
Blue Origin has two launch vehicles, including New Shepard (pictured), named for the first American in space, Alan Shepard. The autonomous, re-usable vehicle is powered by a mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which is more eco-friendly than conventional rocket fuel
After blasting off, travellers travel at the speed of sound past the Karman line (the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space).
They then float weightless for several minutes and ‘witness life-changing views’ of Earth, before descending gently under parachutes.
Blue Origin currently has two launch vehicles, including New Shepard, named for the first American in space, Alan Shepard.
The autonomous, re-usable vehicle consists of a crew capsule and a booster rocket, powered by a mix of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which is more eco-friendly than conventional rocket fuel.
Blue Origin’s most recent crewed flight to space – its sixth overall – successfully took place in August last year.
The mission sent the first Egyptian and Portuguese nationals to space – engineer Sara Sabry and entrepreneur Mario Ferreira, respectively.
It also included Coby Cotton, one of five co-founders of the YouTube sports and comedy channel Dude Perfect, which has more than 58 million subscribers.
A Blue Origin spokeswoman confirmed all six crew were paying passengers, although Sabry’s seat was sponsored by non-profit Space for Humanity.
Blue Origin has not revealed its ticket prices, although a bidder paid $28 million for a seat on the first flight back in 2021.
Past flights have included celebrity guests who have flown for free, including Star Trek legend William Shatner.
However, the following month, New Shepard suffered its first failed launch shortly after lift-off from Texas.
In September, the New Shepard engine went out on the boost one-minute and five seconds after Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket took off. Liftoff was around 10:26am ET on September 12 from the company’s West Texas site
The New Shepard capsule quickly ignited its escape motor that generated at least 70,000 pounds of thrust in just a few seconds and then burned out to allow the craft to deploy its parachutes and coast back to Earth.
Observers were encouraged by the fact that had people been aboard, they would have likely survived.
It was the 23rd mission overall for the New Shepard rocket program, but the first to end in failure.
Blue Origin is also working on a moon lander, called Blue Moon, which it aims to launch in 2024.
‘Blue Moon is a flexible lander delivering a wide variety of small, medium, and large payloads to the lunar surface,’ the firm says.
What is Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander?
Jeff Bezos revealed his space exploration company’s new lunar lander, dubbed Blue Moon, back in 2019.
The spacecraft is capable of carrying and delivering payloads to the moon’s surface.
‘This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon,’ Bezos said.
Blue Origin has long called out a mission to the moon as one of its foremost priorities and spent three years working to develop the craft.
Blue Origin is now in the running to put Americans back on the moon by 2024. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the ambitious next steps for his aerospace company at a highly-secretive media event in Washington, D.C. in 2019. On stage, Bezos took the wraps off a massive model of what will be the firm’s first lunar lander, Blue Moon
It harnesses many of the same ‘propulsion, precision guidance, vertical landing and landing gear systems’ utilized by New Shepard, Blue Origin’s rocket meant to ferry humans to the moon.
The craft is equipped with fuel cells to provide ‘kilowatts of power’ that are capable of lasting for long-distance missions.
Once Blue Moon arrives at its destination, it uses machine learning algorithms to land with precision on the lunar surface.
Blue Moon can deliver several metric tons of payload to the moon, thanks to its top deck and lower bays, the latter of which will allow for ‘closer access to the lunar surface and off-loading,’ the firm said.
With this technology, Blue Origin hopes it will prepare us to be able to send humans back to the moon as soon as 2024.