VAN HORN, Texas - A Central Florida couple can now call themselves astronauts.
On Thursday, Sharon Hagle, CEO of SpaceKids Global, and her husband Marc Hagle, president and CEO of Tricor International, successfully flew as part of a 6-person crew on Blue Origin's latest space flight as part of the New Shepard program.
The launch from Van Horn, Texas was put on hold at the original liftoff time but was cleared minutes later.
The crew included Party America CEO Marty Allen, teacher and entrepreneur Jim Kitchen, Commercial Space Technologies President Dr. George Nield and Blue Origin chief architect of its suborbital rocket, Gary Lai. Lai replaces ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedian Pete Davidson after he dropped out of the voyage.
This is the company’s fourth human flight and 20th flight overall for the New Shepard program.
A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket launches from Launch Site One in West Texas north of Van Horn on March 31, 2022. - The NS-20 mission carries Blue Origins New Shepard Chief Architect Gary Lai, Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle, Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and D
Passengers of the automated capsule soared to an altitude of 66 miles, feeling a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting into the desert.
Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon six years before Blue Origin, was on his company’s debut launch in July. The second, in October, included William Shatner — Captain James Kirk of TV’s original "Star Trek." The late Leonard Nimoy’s daughter sent up a necklace with a "Vulcan Salute" charm on the Oct. 13 flight in honor of the show’s original Mr. Spock.
Private U.S. companies had a multitude of launches in 2021, signaling the year of space tourism finally taking off. Virgin Galactic kicked it off in July, sending up its billionaire founder, Richard Branson, followed by Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.