“Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly to space, will be the latest honorary guests to fly into space with Kent-based Blue Origin.
“I am going to space!” Strahan tweeted. “Excited to be flying on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Dec. 9.”
Four paying customers also will be on the flight, including space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess and Cameron Bess, according to Blue Origin’s Nov. 23 announcement. Lane and Cameron Bess will become the first parent-child pair to fly in space. Blue Origin did not release how much the guest crew paid to be on the flight.
According to Blue Origin, this mission furthers the company’s vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. It will be New Shepard’s third human flight this year, the sixth for the program in 2021, and the 19th in its history. It will carry a full manifest of six astronauts to space for the first time.
Liftoff is for 7 a.m. Dec. 9 from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. Live launch coverage will be available at blueorigin.com. The flight goes about 62 miles up and lasts about 10 minutes.
Also on board NS-19 will be a postcard from each astronaut flown on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to help future generations pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space. The Club’s Postcards to Space program gives students access to space on Blue Origin’s rockets.
Strahan is a two-time Emmy award winner, Peabody award-winning journalist and Super Bowl champion, who currently serves as a co-anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and host of the top-rated prime time game show “$100,000 Pyramid.”
Strahan additionally serves as an analyst for “Fox NFL Sunday” and headlines the Thursday Night Football Pregame Show live from New York City. He played defensive end for the New York Giants from 1993 to 2007.
Blue Origin invited Strahan to join the crew of this flight. As a crew member, he will receive a stipend, which is being donated to The Boys & Girls Club.
Shepard Churchley has dedicated her life to promoting what her father, Alan Shepard, started when he became the first American in space and the fifth person to walk on the Moon, according to Blue Origin, which named its rocket after Alan Shepard. She currently serves as chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, a foundation that raises funds for college students and provides mentoring to scholars pursuing careers and research in STEM.
Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, employs more than 3,500 across the nation and more than 2,500 in Kent. The company opened in Kent in 2000 and expanded its headquarters in 2020 to a 236,000-square-foot blue-colored facility along 76th Avenue South between South 212th and South 228th streets.
Previous honorary guests on Blue Origin’s flights to space include William Shatner, the original Captain James T. Kirk in the 1966 television series “Star Trek,” who went into space Oct. 13. Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos were part of the company’s first human flight to space in July.