Blue Origin to fly 1st astronaut’s daughter, GMA host Michael Strahan on New Shepard spaceflight


Sixty years after watching her father launch on the first American spaceflight, Laura Shepard Churchley is ready to follow in his footsteps.

The eldest daughter of the late Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, Churchley has been confirmed to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle as a member of its third human spaceflight and first six-person crew. Scheduled to take flight from the company’s West Texas launch site on Dec. 9, the NS-19 mission will also include former professional football player and “Good Morning America” (GMA) anchor Michael Strahan, who will become the first Black person to launch aboard a suborbital spaceflight.

The NS-19 crew, including four additional paying passengers — Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick and Lane and Cameron Bass — was announced by Blue Origin on Tuesday (Nov. 23).

Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of the first American in space Alan Shepard, is seen wearing a Blue Origin cap at the first human flight of the company's New Shepard launch vehicle in July 2021. Churchley is set to follow in her father's footsteps, flying on Blue Origin's third crewed flight in December.

Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of the first American in space Alan Shepard, is seen wearing a Blue Origin cap at the first human flight of the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle in July 2021. Churchley is set to follow in her father’s footsteps, flying on Blue Origin’s third crewed flight in December. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Churchley, now 74, was 14 years old when her father climbed aboard the Mercury capsule “Freedom 7” and lifted off on the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission on May 5, 1961. The 15-minute suborbital flight reached just over 100 nautical miles (116.5 statute miles or 187.5 km) before returning to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean — a moment that Churchley recalled after watching the first crewed New Shepard launch in July.



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