Laura Shepard Churchley soars to space with Blue Origin

Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of America’s first astronaut, soars to space with Blue Origin

Laura Shepard Churchley

Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of pioneering US astronaut Alan Shepard got her own taste of life in space when she took a joyride aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocketship on Saturday.

Churchley, 74, who was a schoolgirl when her father made history as the first American in space, was one of six passengers aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, lifting off from the west Texas town of Van Horn.

Following the invitation by Bezos, Shepard said she was “very excited” to be making the trip to space and was proud of her father’s legacy.

“I believe he would say the same thing as my children: go for it!” she said.

Soaring to an altitude of around 106km before travelling back to Earth, the rocket landed under a canopy of parachutes laid out on the desert floor for a safe landing. The trip lasted a little over 10 minutes.

Bezos arrived with members of his recovery team to greet the new astronauts as they emerged from the capsule, pinning astronaut wings to each of their collars with applause from spectators.

Speaking with Bezos, Churchley recounted her wonder at seeing the blackness of space from inside the capsule.

Blue Origin’s new spacecraft is named after Alan Shepard, who in 1961 made history as the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. A decade later, he walked on the moon as commander of the Apollo 14 mission.

Churchley was one of two honorary, non-paying guest passengers chosen by Blue Origin for Saturday’s flight. The other, Michael Strahan is a retired National Football League star and co-anchor of ABC television’s “Good Morning America” show.

The launch marks the third space tourism flight for Blue Origin, and the company’s first with a crew of six passengers.

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