Post-flight interview: Astronaut’s daughter reflects on her own launch on Blue Origin

Laura Shepard Churchley is not sure if she is now an astronaut.

The eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut to fly into space, Churchley followed in her father’s footsteps — and trajectory — lifting off on Dec. 11 aboard the New Shepard, Blue Origin’s suborbital launch vehicle named after her dad. The 10-minute flight established Churchley as the 605th person (and 372nd American) to soar above Earth, but she did so without needing the months- or years-long preparation her father and his fellow astronauts had to undergo.