Blue Origin is going back to the edges of space — and it’s taking a new celebrity with it.
On Monday, the spaceflight firm founded by Jeff Bezos announced that Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will be one of six passengers on the New Shepard 20 mission, the fourth flight to send human passengers to just above the internationally-recognized boundary of space.
The space tourism flights are being used to fund Blue Origin’s most ambitious projects. That includes the New Glenn rocket, comparable to SpaceX’s Falcon series of rockets, that could send satellites into space for commercial clients.
In the long term, Bezos hopes to develop the infrastructure that could enable humanity’s biggest goals in spaceflight — similar to how Amazon used innovations like the postal service to power its dreams decades later.
Bezos envisions giant orbiting cities, located close to Earth, that could enable humanity to expand to 1 trillion humans. The cities could feature leisure and recreation, or heavy industry that avoids polluting Earth nearby.
It could all start with flights like NS-20. Here’s what you need to know.
NS-20: When will the flight launch?
The NS-20 flight will launch on March 23. Liftoff is targeted for 8:30 a.m. Central time from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas.
The mission will use the New Shepard rocket. This rocket uses liquid hydrogen and oxygen as its fuel. While it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide, it does produce water vapor — and a previous study suggested it could have an effect on clouds.
NS-20: Who are the passengers on the flight?
On Monday, Blue Origin announced the six passengers for the flight:
- Marty Allen. A former CEO of Party America and California Closet Company.
- Pete Davidson. A cast member of Saturday Night Live, Davidson has recently made headlines through his relationship with media personality Kim Kardashian.
- Sharon Hagle. The founder of SpaceKids Global, a non-profit organization focused on science, technology, engineering, and medical education. Married to co-passenger Marc Hagle.
- Marc Hagle. The president and CEO of property development company Tricor International. Married to co-passenger Sharon Hagle.
- Jim Kitchen. An entrepreneur and explorer who has visited all 193 countries recognized by the United Nations.
- George Nield. President of Commercial Space Technologies, which aims to promote commercial space activities.
NS-20: How much will the passengers pay?
A Blue Origin spokesperson told the New York Times that Davidson would fly as an “honorary guest.” The other five passengers are paying for their flight. The price is unclear.
In 2018, Reuters reported that the company aims to charge $200,000 to $300,000 for flight tickets. That price has yet to be confirmed. A winner for one of the seats aboard the first crewed New Shepard flight reportedly cost $28 million at auction, according to CNN, though that figure is likely much higher than other flight participants in subsequent missions.
NS-20: What is the plan for during the flight?
A rocket flight lasts just 11 minutes. In that time, the New Shepard rocket will launch vertically, send the capsule to its destination, and land vertically. The capsule will move past the Karman line, a line at 62 miles altitude internationally recognized as the boundary of space.
Each flight member will carry a postcard from Blue Origin’s Club for the Future foundation. The Postcards to Space program set up by the foundation enables students to write postcards and send them into orbit.
NS-20: How can I watch the flight?
Watching along is easy. The company will share a live feed of the mission on its website around 60 minutes prior to the start. Alternatively, users can check the company’s YouTube page here for a link.
Blue Origin aims to launch the rocket at the following times:
- 6:30 a.m. Pacific time
- 8:30 a.m. Central time
- 9:30 a.m. Eastern time
- 1:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean time
- 11:30 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard time
A replay of the launch should be available via Blue Origin’s website after the launch.