First Indian space tourist to fly on Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin’s NS-25 mission

Gopi Thotakura was selected as one of the six crew members for the mission, making him the first Indian space tourist and the second Indian to venture into space.

Updated - April 13, 2024 12:43 pm IST

Published - April 13, 2024 11:09 am IST - Washington

Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos crew mates after they flew on Blue Origin’s inaugural flight to the edge of space in 2021. File.

Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos crew mates after they flew on Blue Origin’s inaugural flight to the edge of space in 2021. File. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Gopi Thotakura, an entrepreneur and a pilot, is set to become the first Indian to venture into space as a tourist on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin’s NS-25 mission.

Mr. Thotakura was selected as one of the six crew members for the mission, making him the first Indian space tourist and the second Indian to venture into space after the Indian Army's Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma in 1984.

The flight date is yet to be announced, the aerospace company said.

This mission will be the seventh human flight for the New Shepard programme and the 25th in its history. To date, the programme has flown 31 humans above the Karman line, the proposed conventional boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

New Shepard is a fully reusable sub-orbital launch vehicle developed for space tourism by Blue Origin.

According to Blue Origin, "Gopi is a pilot and aviator who learned how to fly before he could drive."

He is the co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global centre for holistic wellness and applied health located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In addition to flying jets commercially, he pilots bush, aerobatic, and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons, and has served as an international medical jet pilot.

A lifelong traveller, his most recent adventure took him to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Andhra Pradesh-born Thotakura is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Other crew members of the flight include Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, who was selected by President John F Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.

During the flight, each astronaut will carry a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future.

This programme gives students access to space on Blue Origin’s rockets, including an all-digital method to create and send postcards. The Club’s mission is to inspire and mobilise future generations to pursue careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) for the benefit of Earth.

From an environmental standpoint, nearly 99% of New Shepard’s dry mass is reused, including the booster, capsule, engine, landing gear, and parachutes.

New Shepard’s engine is fuelled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen. During the flight, the only byproduct is water vapour with no carbon emissions, the company said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.