Actor Pete Davidson will reach the final frontier next week, if all goes according to plan.
The “Saturday Night Live” star and five other people are scheduled to fly to suborbital space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle on March 23, company representatives announced today (March 14).
Liftoff is targeted for 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT) from Blue Origin’s launch facility in West Texas. You can watch it here at Space.com when the time comes courtesy of Blue Origin, or follow the action directly via the company.
In photos: Blue Origin’s 1st New Shepard passenger launch with Jeff Bezos
The March 23 mission will be Blue Origin’s fourth crewed spaceflight and the 20th liftoff overall for New Shepard (which explains the mission’s name, NS-20). Joining Davidson on the flight are businessman and angel investor Marty Allen; married couple Sharon Hagle and Marc Hagle, both of whom are active philanthropists (Sharon Hagle founded the nonprofit SpaceKids Global); entrepreneur and teacher Jim Kitchen; and George Nield, the president of Commercial Space Technologies, LLC.
Nield has a long history in the spaceflight field. He formerly served as associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, for example, and also managed the Flight Integration Office for NASA’s space shuttle program.
It appears that Davidson is getting a free ride to suborbital space; in a press release announcing the mission this morning, Blue Origin noted that the actor will fly “alongside five customers.”
Blue Origin has not revealed how much a seat aboard New Shepard costs. The company’s main competitor in the suborbital tourism realm, Virgin Galactic, is currently charging $450,000 to ride its VSS Unity space plane, which has not yet carried paying passengers.
The NS-20 crew manifest continues a trend for Blue Origin, which flew at least one celebrity on each of its first three flights.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos flew with three other people, including aviation pioneer Wally Funk, on the first crewed New Shepard mission, which lifted off in July 2021. The next two New Shepard crewed flights, in October and December of 2021, included “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and former NFL star and current GMA host Michael Strahan, respectively, on their passenger lists.
New Shepard consists of a rocket and a capsule, both of which are reusable. The capsule gets more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth, letting passengers experience a few minutes of weightlessness as well as see our planet against the blackness of space during missions that last about 11 minutes from liftoff to touchdown.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.