Here's who's flying on Thursday's Blue Origin space launch


New York (CNN Business)Pete Davidson was initially slated to be the next headline-grabbing name to take flight aboard the suborbital space tourism rocket developed by Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, after the commercial space company launched several other famous faces on its previous flights. But the comedian abruptly dropped out of the mission after a schedule change pushed the flight back by a week. His seat was given to longtime company employee Gary Lai, the chief architect of the very rocket he’ll fly on. Lai will be joined by five paying customers who had the means to dish out an undisclosed sum for one of the coveted crew capsule seats. Liftoff of the New Shepard launch vehicle had been scheduled for Tuesday morning, but the company said that it’s expecting rough winds at its facilities near Van Horn, Texas at that time. Blue Origin is now targeting Thursday at 8:30 am CT. Those interested in catching the action — which is expected to look much like Blue Origin’s three earlier suborbital jaunts — can tune into Blue Origin’s webcast Thursday morning. The flight will be brief. It’s an approximately 10-minute up-and-down excursion that will kick off with the rocket firing up its engines and reaching more than three times the speed of sound as it propels the crew’s capsule to more than 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. The passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and sweeping views of the planet below, before gravity drags them back to Earth and the capsule deploys parachutes to ensure a gentle landing near the launch site. It’s not immediately clear how much the paying customers on this mission forked over, and Blue Origin has not disclosed a fixed ticket price. But we do know at least one would-be passenger won an auction for a ticket to fly alongside Bezos last year for a whopping $28 million. (That passenger, however, did not end up flying on Bezos’ flight.) We also know another player in the suborbital space tourism game, Virgin Galactic, is selling its seats for $450,000 a piece. Whether the passengers paid a few hundred thousand bucks or a few million, it’s safe to say that these missions won’t be affordable for the average consumer anytime soon. Here is a look at some of the next space tourists set to launch on Blue Origin’s mission on Thursday. Lai, the only non-paying passenger on Thursday’s suborbital flight, was among the first 20 employees at Blue Origin after joining the company in 2004. He’s been credited as the “architect of the New Shepard system,” and holds multiple patents related to the launch vehicle, according to a statement from Blue Origin. During his time as an undergraduate at Cornell University, Lai studied under the prolific late astronomer Carl Sagan.

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