Blue Origin announces replacement for Pete Davidson on next space tourism mission

The company announced Monday that it will replace Davidson with its chief architect for its suborbital rocket, Gary Lai.

Davidson, who has become a pillar of the entertainment intrigue amid his relationship with Kim Kardashian and feuding with Kanye West, had been scheduled to fly as an invited guest along with five paying customers aboard the Blue Origins New Shepard rocket. But when Blue Origin announced last week that it had to delay that flight – from March 23 to March 29 – for further ground tests on the rocket, the company also announced that Davidson could no longer participate in the mission.
Lai, who has been with Blue Origin for 18 years and holds several patents related to the design of the New Shepard rocket, will fly alongside five previously announced paying customers. They include Marty Allen, an investor and former CEO of a party business; Jim Kitchen, an entrepreneur and business professor; George Nield, a former associate administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation; Marc Hagle, a real estate developer in Orlando, and his wife, Sharon Hagle, who founded a space-focused nonprofit organization.
After years of quiet development, the Blue Origins space tourism rocket made its crew debut last year with Bezos, flying alongside a space community heroine, Wally Funk, as well as his brother Mark Bezos and a paying customer.
Since then, Blue Origin has made headlines for flying with other well-known names on two subsequent flights, including Star Trek star William Shatner and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan.

Blue Origin’s goal is to make these suborbital spaceflights a cornerstone of pop culture, and provide a 10-minute supersonic joyride to invited guests – who have so far mostly been celebrities – and anyone else who can afford it.

The crew change with Lai and Davidson is not the first. Last year, the company held an auction for one ticket to fly with Bezos, and the as yet unnamed winner of this auction agreed to pay a staggering $ 28 million for the seat. But then the winner showed up and chose to fly on a later mission, and a second-place finisher at the auction, a Dutch investor, passed the ticket on to his 18-year-old son, Oliver Daemen.
A billionaire CEO is about to go further into space than any human in 50 years

Before this month’s flight, Blue Origin passengers will spend a few days training at Blue Origin’s facilities in West Texas before the day of flight, where they will crawl into the New Shepard crew capsule that sits on top of the rocket. After liftoff, the rocket will tear past the speed of sound, and near the top of its flight path it will detach from the capsule. As the rocket booster returns to Earth for an upright landing, the manned capsule will continue to soar higher into the atmosphere for more than 60 miles above the surface, where the black darkness of space is visible and the capsule windows will offer a beautiful view of Earth.

As the flight reaches its peak, passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Bezos in particular spent his time in weightlessness throwing Skittles and turning around in the cabin. Others have been glued to the window.

As gravity begins to pull the capsule back toward the ground, passengers will again experience intense G-forces before sets of parachutes are exposed to brake the vehicle. It will then land at less than 20 miles per hour in the Texas desert.

Blue Origin's New Shepard vows off the launch pad with 90-year-old Star Trek actor William Shatner and three other civilians on October 13, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas.

Because the flights are suborbital – meaning they do not generate enough speed or take the right trajectory to avoid being immediately pulled back by Earth’s gravity – the whole trip will only last about 10 minutes.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Gary Lai’s name.

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