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Mission Control gives “go” for astronauts to go to pad

The astronauts are now driving to the launch pad after receiving the “Go” from Blue Origin’s mission control.

Astronauts begin walkout

The New Shepard crew has just emerged for the cameras from the Blue Origin astronaut training center nearby Launch Site One. The crew members each received a special launch day coin just prior to leaving the building, Blue Origin said during the webcast. 

Scheduled to fly into space today are billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.

The launch is still scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), according to Blue Origin, and officials said on the webcast that the weather remains good for launch. Listening to the webcast, you can periodically hear loudspeaker updates and monitoring helicopters flying overhead.

An auspicious anniversary

July 20 is most famous for being the anniversary of the first human landing on the moon. In 1969, the Apollo 11 crew touched down safely in the Sea of Tranquility with NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard.

Another famous (but lesser-known) July 20 space milestone came in 1976, when NASA’s Viking 1 lander made the first successful touchdown on the Red Planet.

One hour before liftoff

We are one hour before the scheduled liftoff of the New Shepard system at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) from Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas. The webcast is ongoing, mostly with prerecorded videos for the moment. 

Above is a shot of New Shepard on the pad from Blue Origin’s webcast.

The next major launch milestone should take place at about 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) when the four space tourists climb the launch tower. Scheduled for a spaceflight today is Blue Origin billionaire founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.

Blue Origin announces call signs for astronauts

Blue Origin is running its webcast and talking about its crew. Mark Bezos’ call sign is going to be called “Demo”, while the other crew members (billionaire Jeff Bezos, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen) will each be called by their last names during the 11-minute flight.

Liftoff remains scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), according to the webcast.

Blue Origin on track for launch today

A close up of Blue Origin’s mission patch for its First Human Flight mission launching Jeff Bezos and three others on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin reports everything is going well for today’s First Human Flight launch from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas. 

The New Shepard rocket and capsule are on the launch pad, with launch targeted for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). A webcast will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and you can watch that on this page at the top. 

Here’s a view of today’s rocket rollout. 

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It’s Launch Day for Blue Origin

Space.com senior writer Mike Wall captured this photo of the press hangar at Blue Origin’s Launch Site One for the July 20, 2021 launch of Jeff Bezos and three others on the First Human Flight mission from West Texas near Van Horn. (Image credit: Mike Wall/Space.com)

LAUNCH SITE ONE, West Texas – I’m here at the New Shepard launch site, in the West Texas desert near the town of Van Horn. It’s a little after 5 a.m. local time, about 3 hours before liftoff. It’s still dark, but I know that creosotes are thick on the dusty flats here; their sweet, aromatic smell is heavy is the predawn air.

About 30 other journalists and I are clacking our keyboards in the Press Hangar, a cavernous white building with long wooden tables, including some that bear snacks and coffee — and signs promising a hot breakfast to come. There are also upholstered chairs and couches, which are looking mighty inviting at this early hour. Cadging a nap is pretty tempting, but it might look bad. And I don’t want to miss the sunrise…

Blue Origin passengers won’t wear spacesuits during launch

The crew of Blue Origin’s First Human Flight mission will launch on the company’s New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021. They are (From left): Oliver Daemon, Wally Funk, Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and his New Shepard made the TV news rounds today to share details about their coming launch on the company’s First Human Flight mission and the billionaire revealed a surprising about the flight. 

Bezos and his three crewmates (his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen) won’t wear pressurized spacesuits when they launch. Instead they’ll wear Blue Origin’s standard-issue flight suits. You can read our full story here by Elizabeth Howell. 

The New Shepard astronaut are undergoing final training today for their flight, including ingress and egress practice for getting into and out of the spacecraft, emergency escape plans and fire emergency training. 

Launch is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas.

Blue Origin One Day from Launch

Blue Origin is now just over 24 hours from its first crewed launch. The company’s New Shepard rocket and space capsule will launch billionaire Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemon on Tuesday, July 20, at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). Blue Origin’s webcast will begin at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) on Tuesday.

Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with plans for human spaceflight and it’s been a long road to Tuesday’s launch. 

See how Blue Origin and Bezos followed that path to their first astronaut launch here, as reported by senior writer Mike Wall.

Blue Origin is GO for New Shepard launch

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule stand atop the company’s Launch Site One near Van Horn, Texas ahead of a planned launch of founder Jeff Bezos and three others on July 20, 2021.  (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin has cleared its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft to launch the company’s first astronaut flight, NS-16, a mission that will carry billionaire Jeff Bezos and three others to suborbital space and back on Tuesday, July 20. Liftoff is set for 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT)

“The vehicle is ready to fly,” said Chris Yeager, Blue Origin’s chief engineer for New Shepard, in a prelaunch press conference. There are no technical issues with the spacecraft, he added. 

Blue Origin expects a slight chance of rain early on launch day, but the weather looks like it will clear in time for the planned launch. The company will begin its launch day webcast at 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT). You can watch that on this page, on Space.com here and via BlueOrigin.com.

Blue Origin’s upcoming launch, which it has called the First Human Flight, will launch Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemon to an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), where they will experience 3-4 minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth in their space capsule. They will land in the West Texas desert to be retrieved by a recovery team. 

The passengers are staying in Blue Origin’s “astronaut village,” where they are undergoing 14 hours of preflight training over two days to prepare themselves for the spaceflight. 

(Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin press conference live

Update: The press conference has ended. You can see it in full above.

Blue Origin’s prelaunch press conference for its July 20 First Human Flight is live now. You can watch it in the window above, here on Space.com, here at BlueOrigin.com and here on YouTube. — Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief

Blue Origin prelaunch press conference today

Blue Origin will hold a press conference at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) today to preview the company’s first astronaut launch on July 20. The press conference will be webcast on BlueOrigin.com, the company’s website.

Related: Meet the crew launching on Blue Origin’s 1st astronaut flight on July 20

On Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing, Blue Origin will launch its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos on a suborbital spaceflight from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn. Flying with Bezos will be his brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviation pioneer Wally Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemon. Liftoff is at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). 

The four astronauts-to-be met apparently gathered together on Saturday to view their New Shepard rocket and space capsule in a meeting Jeff Bezos shared on Instagram. Funk, 82, and Daemon, 18, will set new records for the oldest and youngest people in space when they launch, as Elizabeth Howell reports today for Space.com.

“That’s my window!” Funk exclaimed as they examined the rocket and wore matching cowboy hats. 

Related: Blue Origin launch will be the 1st fully automated flight with civilian astronauts: report

— Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief

Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle lifts from the company’s West Texas launch site on a suborbital test flight. Blue Origin has set July 20 for its first crewed flight. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin is three days away from making history with its first astronaut launch, which will launch the company’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. 

The mission, which will launch on Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard rocket and space capsule, will lift off from the company’s  Launch Site One in West Texas near Van Horn at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), and yes, there will be a webcast. It should start at about 7:30 a.m. EDT (1130 GMT) and cover the crew’s walkout to the rocket and other prelaunch activities. You can watch it on Space.com and on BlueOrigin.com

Blue Origin will hold a prelaunch news conference on Sunday (July 18) at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) to discuss details of the launch. That will be webcast on BlueOrigin.com and simulcast here on Space.com if possible.

Space.com will offer live updates of the mission here on launch day (which happens to be the 52nd anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing), as well as over the next few days leading up to the launch.

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Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin staff celebrate the successful landing of a New Shepard rocket.

Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin staff celebrate the successful landing of a New Shepard rocket. He will ride one on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)
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Mark Bezos hugs his brother Jeff. The two will launch to space together on a Blue Origin New Shepard on July 20, 2021.

Mark Bezos hugs his brother Jeff. The two will launch to space together on a Blue Origin New Shepard on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)
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Oliver Daemon, 18, will be the youngest person in space when he launches on Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, 2021.

Oliver Daemon, 18, will be the youngest person in space when he launches on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)
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Wally Funk, 82, will become the oldest person to fly in space when she launches with Blue Origin on July 20, 2021.

Wally Funk, 82, will become the oldest person to fly in space when she launches with Blue Origin on July 20, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

This mission has been a long-time coming for Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000. The company has flown 15 uncrewed test flights of its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft, culminating in an “astronaut rehearsal” flight in April 2021. The company wants to fly paying passengers (and scientists with experiments, too) on trips to suborbital space that fly higher than 62 miles (100 kilometers).

Launching on this flight will be Bezos, 57; his brother Mark Bezos, 53; aviation pioneer Wally Funk, 82; and physics student Oliver Daemon, 18, who is Blue Origin’s first paying passenger. 

Infographic: How Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket works

To raise awareness for its First Human Spaceflight, Blue Origin held a public auction for a seat on the flight, which was won by an anonymous bidder for $28 million. During the auction, Blue Origin announced that Bezos, his brother and Funk would be on the flight. 

But 5 days before launch, Blue Origin announced that the auction winner had opted out of the launch, citing schedule conflicts. Instead, Daemon joined the crew as his father Joes Daemon had submitted the second-highest bid in the auction. The amount has not been disclosed. 

As we prepare for Blue Origin’s press conference on Saturday, here’s a few videos on the upcoming mission from Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and the company to tide you over. — Tariq Malik, Editor-in-Chief

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