Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut to go into space. Exactly six decades later, his daughter, Laura Shepard, became a churchgoer. Following in his father’s footsteps, he also went on a journey into space. A total of six people, including Laura, have gone into space on a commercial rocket belonging to billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin Space Company. According to the BBC, Blue Origin launched its own six-seater commercial rocket, the New Shepard, from its own launch site in Von Horn, Texas last Saturday, local time. There were six astronauts, including 84-year-old Lara. The list also includes former US football star and presenter of the TV show “Good Morning America” Michael Strahan.
The six astronauts climbed to an altitude of 106 km above sea level. Enjoying the feeling of zero gravity for 10 minutes, they came back to the surface. At this time Jeff Bezos welcomed them. However, due to strong winds, their journey was delayed for two days. Blue Origin has sent three rockets with it this year since the start of the space tourism business.
Laura was in school when Alan Shepard made the first American spaceflight on May 5, 1971. Alan later walked on the moon in 1971. The US astronaut died in 1997. Following in her father’s footsteps, Laura dreamed of going to space since childhood.
Expressing her feelings, Laura said, “I was wondering if Dad could see it. He could have fully realized my joy.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’s space tourism business is being criticized around the world. Last month, Britain’s Prince William warned that such space tourism initiatives could raise concerns about climate change among the younger generation. The flight followed a similar path to previous rockets launched by the company, before landing in the Texas desert where the tourists were greeted by Mr Bezos.
Lasting for just over 10 minutes and reaching an altitude of around 62 miles (100km), it was five minutes and 116 miles shorter than Alan Shepard’s inaugural flight. His daughter brought along a small piece of his capsule, as well as some mementos from his later trip to the lunar surface aboard Apollo 14 in 1971. “I thought about Daddy coming down and thought, gosh he didn’t even get to enjoy any of what I’m getting to enjoy,” Ms Shepard Churchley said. “He was working. He had to do it himself. I went up for the ride!”.
This, he says, would leave Earth as a pristine tourism destination much like national parks today. The year 2021 has been significant for the space tourism sector, with Virgin Galactic also flying its founder Richard Branson to the final frontier, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX sending four private citizens on a three-day orbital mission for charity.