“Woohoo! We’re not going to die,” one of the passengers on Blue Origin’s space tourism mission NS-22 could be heard screaming on the live stream of the mission today (August 4). “Our poor families!”
Shortly after landing in the West Texas desert—and not dead—the crew of Blue Origin’s sixth manned spacecraft sat down to describe the experience.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle carried six passengers on a roughly 10-minute flight today that included several minutes in suborbital space. Even those short minutes were enough to change the passengers’ lives forever.
Related: In pictures: William Shatner launches into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard
“It was more than anything I can put into words. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be so emotional,” said mechanical and biomedical engineer Sara Sabry, the first person from Egypt to reach space. Sabry is also the founder of the Deep Space Initiative (DSI), a non-profit organization that aims to increase the accessibility of space exploration.
“I couldn’t stop crying. It was just uncontrollable,” Sabry added. “It was just beautiful. And the thing, I think, the feeling that I felt most out of all of this is that I think everyone on earth needs to experience this. Every single person needs to see this, because everyone should be able to see this.”
“All I can think about is it was the funnest 12 minutes of my life, like really,” said Coby Cotton, co-founder of the popular YouTube channel Dude Perfect. “Just being there and seeing the Earth like that made me feel so small in a really cool way.”
Cotton added that he intended to use the flight to film content for his YouTube channel, but forgot all about it once the capsule entered space.
“I had all these plans, with all the YouTube stuff, to do some stunts on top,” Cotton said. “I brought these little mini ping pong paddles. Marty [Mário Ferreira] and I would play ping pong and Steve and I would shoot a little mini basketball shot and they wouldn’t leave my pockets. All I wanted was to look out and just float around. And I wouldn’t change it. It was incredible.”
Forever changed. #NS22 pic.twitter.com/UWrtHLiHrH4 August 2022
Entrepreneur and investor Ferreira, the first person from Portugal to reach space, said he was “very surprised” by the height the New Shepard capsule was able to reach. “I expected to see some curvature of the earth and black, but it was black, much darker.” Ferreira added that it was “an incredible experience and it was worth waiting 18 years for it, which I’ve been waiting for.”
Technology pioneer Clint Kelly III, who is credited with starting the development of today’s driverless cars, said the experience made him think back on the history of human exploration.
“I was struck by it like everybody else,” Kelly said. “The transition from blue to purple to black. And when that happened, I realized I was in a new place. So I was at the gateway to the new frontier. So that must have been the equivalent of the feeling some of my ancestors felt in the 1700s century when they stood on their own Kármán line, which was the Appalachian Mountains and looked into the new frontier, which became the state of Kentucky.”
Not all passengers were equally detailed. “I asked you all to impress me, and you impressed me,” said telecommunications chief Steve Young. “Obviously I had a very emotional feel to it and I’ll leave it at that.”
For author and explorer Vanessa O’Brien, the experience made her reflect on how humanity is entering a new phase of exploration thanks to commercial space launch providers like Blue Origin. “If you wanted to go to space in the past, you would have trained for this for decades; you might have joined the military or had to go into it some other way. But with the private space industry changing and disrupting the space industry, millions of people are going to be able to live and work in space, thanks to people like Blue Origin who make it possible.”
The flight of NS-22 also had symbolic meaning for several passengers aboard the New Shepard capsule. For Sabry, the short space flight represented a historic moment for her nation. “I thought – like I stopped for a moment and really tried to look out the window and think that I’m taking all of Egypt with me.”
“I knew a lot of Egyptians were watching at the moment, and I thought, OK, so now they’re going to space … for the very first time in history,” Sabry added.
For O’Brien, who carried the UN’s Women’s flag (opens in a new tab) with her into space, the flight served as a symbol to promote equality throughout the world. “This UN Women flag represents women all over the world, regardless of nationality, race, religion, and it is for every woman who wants to take one step at a time. And it is Blue Origin’s motto. So UN Women also supports that and wants every woman to be in a better place. And I’m very proud to have that flag with me today.”