Blue Origin launched its New Shepard suborbital vehicle carrying six people including the first individuals from Egypt and Portugal to go to space.
Mission “N-22” saw the New Shepard suborbital rocket blast off around 8:58 am local time (1358 GMT) from Blue’s base in the west Texas desert.
The NS-22 mission marked the 12th piloted commercial, non-government sub-orbital spaceflight and the sixth for Blue Origin.
New Shepard is an automated, reusable rocket-capsule combo designed to take people and research payloads on brief trips to suborbital space. The rocket comes back to Earth for a powered landing like the first stages of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital rockets do, and the crew capsule lands softly under parachutes.
New Shepard missions last just 11 minutes or so from start to finish. Passengers get to see the curve of Earth against the blackness of space and experience a few minutes of weightlessness.
The crew included Egyptian engineer Sara Sabry, and Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira, both the first people of their countries to leave Earth. It also included Coby Cotton, one of five co-founders of the YouTube sports and comedy channel Dude Perfect, which boasts more than 57m followers.
Sabry is a mechanical and biomedical engineer, and the founder of Deep Space Initiative, a non-profit group that works to increase accessibility to space research.
She is also Egypt’s first female analogue astronaut, having completed a two-week simulation of a Moon mission that recreated the extreme conditions astronauts experience in space.
Sabry’s seat on the NS-22 mission was sponsored by Space for Humanity, a non-profit group that is trying to expand access to space.
She is currently pursuing a PhD in aerospace sciences with a focus on space suit design.