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First Indian tourist to blast off into space on New Shepard rocket at 7pm today: Where to watch live

Jeff Bezos-backed aerospace company Blue Origin’s New Shepard (NS) rocket will blast off for the far reaches of space, with six crew members, including an Indian space tourist, at 7 p.m. IST on May 19. The NS-25 mission is scheduled to depart from Launch Site One in West Texas. Among the six crew members is Gopi Thotakura, a commercial airline pilot and entrepreneur, who will become India’s first space tourist.

Other members include former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight. Blue Origin is resuming space tourism operations after nearly two years, following an unsuccessful uncrewed test flight in 2022. The NS-25 mission will be streamed LIVE on the Blue Origin website. Click here to watch the mission live.

Born in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Gopi Thotakura graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health. The center is located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“Gopi is a pilot and aviator who learned to fly before he knew how to drive,” Blue Origin said in a statement.

In addition to flying jet aircraft for commercial purposes, Thotakura flies bush planes, aerobatics and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons. He was also an international medical aircraft pilot.

A lifelong traveler, Thotakura’s most recent adventure included summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

This will be New Shepard’s seventh crewed flight. Other crew members include Kenneth L Hess; Sylvain Chiron, founder of Brasserie Mont-Blanc; Mason Angel, a venture capitalist and Carol Schaller.

Although he did not join the NASA Astronaut Corps after receiving commendations from the Air Force, Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight pursued a successful career as an entrepreneur and sculptor.

Dwight, at 90, will become the oldest person to venture to the edge of space. During the mission, the crew will travel at speeds greater than three times the speed of sound, reaching altitudes beyond the Kármán Line, where outer space officially begins.

Passengers will experience several minutes of weightlessness and will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of Earth through the cabin windows before returning. This launch follows the success of an uncrewed science mission in December, marking an important milestone for the resurgence of the New Shepard program after the previous setback.

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