Jeff Bezos' partner Lauren Sánchez to lead an all-female Blue Origin crew

Blue Origin is planning for its next New Shepard space tourism flight, though its rockets are currently grounded.
Chris Young
Lauren Sánchez with Jeff Bezos.
Lauren Sánchez with Jeff Bezos.

Getty Images 

Blue Origin is looking ahead to its next set of space tourism flights as investigations continue into a recent launch failure of one of its New Shepard rockets.

The company is set to fly an all-female crew to suborbital space, and it will be led by Lauren Sanchez, the girlfriend of Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, according to a report in WSJ Magazine.

Before that crew can launch aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, however, the company must be cleared for launch by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) following a launch anomaly during the rocket's last research payload mission.

Blue Origin will fly an all-female crew

Sanchez told WSJ Magazine in an interview that she aims to lead a six-person space tourism mission once Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket is once again cleared for flight.

Back in September last year, a Blue Origin mission called NS-23 was carrying 36 scientific payloads to suborbital space when the New Shepard rocket carrying the mission suffered an anomaly. Thankfully, no crew was aboard the mission, though the launch failure did show off the impressive capability of New Shepard's capsule escape system.

Blue Origin has yet to reveal what caused that anomaly, and its New Shepard won't be able to fly again until a full FAA investigation is completed.

The company has also yet to announce a full crew list for the upcoming all-female crew launch. However, Sanchez, who is a trained helicopter pilot, did tell WSJ Magazine it will be comprised of "women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send."

Space tourism could soon be back on the menu for Blue Origin

Blue Origin has launched six crewed suborbital space missions to date using the reusable New Shepard rocket, which is made up of a first-stage booster and a crew capsule. The first crewed New Shepard launch took off in July 2021, with Jeff Bezos aboard.

The company's space tourism flights are brief, lasting only 11 minutes, though high-profile passengers have claimed it was a life-changing experience. Blue Origin's second space tourism flight, in October 2021, also lifted four passengers to suborbital space, including Star Trek actor William Shatner, who described the strong feeling of "grief" for our planet the launch inspired in him.

Jeff Bezos' partner Lauren Sánchez to lead an all-female Blue Origin crew
Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations, aboard a New Shepard flight.

Four crewed New Shepard flights have taken place since then, with the latest taking place in August 2022, a month before the New Shepard anomaly during the research mission NS-23. It's worth noting that Blue Origin used a different New Shepard vehicle for its research missions. Still, that launch failure means the company's space tourism flights, using its New Shepard RSS First Step, are grounded until further notice.

Though Blue Origin cannot guarantee any launch dates at the moment, Sanchez did say in her interview that she hopes her all-female crew will launch to suborbital space early next year.

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