Laura Shepard Churchley is now the 372nd American to fly into space. Her dad was the first.
Separated by 60 years, 7 months and 6 days, Churchley followed in her father’s footsteps — and suborbital flight trajectory — by launching on board Blue Origin‘s New Shepard on Saturday (Dec. 11).
The rocket, named after Alan Shepard, the United States’ first astronaut to fly into space (and Churchley’s dad), completed its 19th successful spaceflight and its first to carry a full crew of six people.
Video recap: Watch Blue Origin launch Michael Strahan to space
|Mercury-Redstone 3||New Shepard 19|
|Vehicle operator||NASA||Blue Origin|
|Capsule name||Freedom 7||RSS First Step|
|Launch site||Launch Complex-5 (LC-5) Cape Canaveral, Florida||Blue Origin Launch Site One Van Horn, Texas|
|Shepard on crew||Alan B. Shepard, Jr.||Laura Shepard Churchley|
|No. in space (worldwide)||2||605|
|Crewmates||0||6 (“The Original Six”): Michael Strahan (“Good Morning America” anchor, at 6′,4″ now the tallest person in space); Dylan Taylor; Evan Dick; Lane Bess, Cameron Bess (first parent-child pair to launch into space together)|
|Launch scrubs||2 (weather, 3 days)||1 (weather, 2 days)|
|Launch date||May 5, 1961||Dec. 11, 2021|
|Unplanned holds (on launch day)||2 hours, 14 minutes||16 minutes|
|Launch time||9:34:13 a.m. EST (1434 GMT)||9:00:42 a.m. CST (1500 GMT)|
|Capsule landing||9:49:35 a.m. EST (1449 GMT)||9:10:55 a.m. CST (1510 GMT)|
|No. of parachutes||1 drogue, 1 main||3 drogue, 3 main|
|Type of landing||water (splashdown)||land (touchdown)|
|Capsule flight duration||15 minutes, 28 seconds||10 minutes, 13 seconds|
|Capsule apogee (max altitude)||101.2 nautical miles (116.5 statute miles or 187.5 km)||57.2 nautical miles (66.8 statute miles or 105.9 km)|
|Capsule range||263.1 nautical miles (302.8 statute miles or 487.3 km)||[not immediately reported]|
|Vehicle height (capsule/booster)||83 feet (25 meters)||49 feet (15 meters)|
|Vehicle diameter||5.8 feet (1.8 meters)||12.1 feet (3.7 meters)|
|Capsule volume (habitable)||100 cubic feet (2.8 cubic meters)||530 cubic feet (15 cubic meters)|
|Capsule windows (no. and size)||0 (two 6-inch [15 cm] circular portholes)||6 (each 42.7 inches in height and 28.6 inches across at the bottom [108.5 by 72.6 centimeters])|
|Total flights (capsule/booster)||1 / 1||5 / 5|
The two Shepards’ history-making missions were similar in many ways and yet, the fact that Churchley was able to repeat her father’s feat with only a few days of training speaks to how far human spaceflight has come in the past six decades. Churchley flew as a guest of Blue Origin, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon.
“This was just wonderful. I was trained too well, I knew exactly what was coming,” Churchley told Bezos after landing and exiting the capsule. “I thought about Daddy on coming down and I thought, ‘Gosh, he didn’t get to enjoy any of what I am getting to enjoy.’ He was working, he had to do it himself. I went on for the ride!”
Here is a look at how Shepard’s Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) and Churchley’s New Shepard-19 (NS-19) flights compared.
collectSPACE is thankful to RR Auction for sponsoring coverage of Blue Origin’s New Shepard-19 (NS-19) mission. The auction house is based in New Hampshire, Alan Shepard’s home state, and was behind the $28 million sale of the first seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle.
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