New Shepard rocket. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

New Shepard rocket. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

India, Nigeria to participate in Kent-based Blue Origin flight

Among nations that have historically lacked access to space

A New Shepard rocket flight by Kent-based Blue Origin will carry a crew from the countries of India, Nigeria and the Small Island Developing States, according to a Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA) press release.

SERA announced that each country will be allotted a seat on a future mission, making a significant milestone for nations who have historically lacked access to space and paving the way for innovation and advancement within these regions, according to the July 1 press release.

For these seats, SERA has partnered with the National Space Research Development Agency of Nigeria, and the Maldives Space Research Organization. The remaining seat assignments for underrepresented countries will be revealed later this year. The mission will celebrate the historic achievement of the first Nigerian citizen to embark on a space voyage.

A date for the flight has yet to be released.

“Our future in space should reflect the diversity on Earth,” said Phil Joyce, a Blue Origin senior vice president. “This program is an important step in making space accessible to new and emerging spacefaring nations and inspiring people within—and beyond—their borders.”

In a first for the industry, the global public will vote on who flies on SERA’s upcoming mission to space, according to the press release. Today, more than 80% of astronauts have come from just three countries. SERA is aiming to break down structural barriers to space and make spaceflight and scientific research more accessible and inclusive.

Earlier this year, SERA formed a strategic partnership with Blue Origin to purchase six seats onboard a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket. Five of the seats are allocated to partner nations that have never had an astronaut or very few. The sixth seat will be open to a person from any partner nation. Anyone can apply and be selected by the voting public.

Blue Origin does not release the cost of its rocket flights, which last about 10 or 11 minutes.

SERA’s first achievement toward making space accessible to all was demonstrated on June 4, 2022, when the company sent Victor Hespanha, a 28-year-old civil engineer from Minas Gerais, Brazil, to space on NS-21, Blue Origin’s fifth crewed flight. He became the second Brazilian to fly to space.

“Expanding the horizons of space discovery goes beyond the astronauts themselves,” said Sam Hutchison, co-founder of SERA. “Building an inclusive space ecosystem means bringing our entire community along for the ride.”

More information on the mission will be announced over the coming months. To sign up for updates on SERA, visit sera.space.

SERA, the Space Exploration & Research Agency was founded to build a global community dedicated to space exploration and research. Its mission is to create a space agency for everyone.


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