Blue Origin's 20th Mission to Space
Blue Origin today announced the sixth crew member joining New Shepard’s 20th mission will be Blue Origin’s Gary Lai, New Shepard Chief Architect. Gary joins the previously announced crew, which includes Marty Allen, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield.
Gary is best known as the architect of the New Shepard system, including leading the team responsible for the design and development of many of the key safety systems on the Crew Capsule. He joined Blue Origin in 2004 and was among the first 20 employees.
He is currently Senior Director and Chief Architect of New Shepard, responsible for all next generation designs, upgrades, and new product development for the New Shepard business. His prior positions include Senior Director of Design Engineering, System Architect, Crew Capsule Element Lead, NASA Commercial Crew Development Program Manager, Lead Systems Engineer, and Pathfinding Lead with responsibility for advanced research and development. Gary has been involved in product development, strategic planning, and business development for all Blue Origin product lines, including the New Glenn orbital launch vehicle, rocket engine programs, and Blue Moon.
During the time Gary led the New Shepard technical team as System Architect in 2016, the program won the prestigious Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association “for successfully demonstrating rocket booster reusability with the New Shepard human spaceflight vehicle through five successful test flights of a single booster and engine, all of which performed powered vertical landings on Earth.” Gary was the 2019 recipient of the Blue Origin Founder’s Award for his technical ambition and achievement.
Gary graduated from Cornell University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics and Business Management. He was a student of Carl Sagan at Cornell. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington. Gary holds several New Shepard patents and serves on the Visiting Committee of the University of Washington College of Engineering, William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He holds three patents in space system technology.
Blue Origin's 20th flight of New Shepard has shifted to Tuesday, March 29. Pete Davidson is no longer able to join the NS-20 crew on this mission. We will announce the sixth crew member in the coming days.
Blue Origin today announced the crew flying on its upcoming NS-20 flight on March 23 will include Marty Allen, Pete Davidson, husband and wife duo Sharon and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield.
This mission is the fourth human flight for the New Shepard program and the 20th in its history.
Live launch coverage begins on BlueOrigin.com at T-60 minutes. Liftoff is currently targeted for 8:30 a.m. CDT / 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas.
Each astronaut on board NS-20 will carry a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose Postcards to Space program gives students access to space on Blue Origin’s rockets. The Club’s mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM for the benefit of Earth.
Meet the crew
Marty Allen is a turnaround CEO and angel investor. During his tenure as CEO of Party America, he transformed the company from a broken California retail chain into a large nationwide retailer, leading the company through a bankruptcy restructuring and the acquisition of several competitors. He is also the former CEO of California Closet Company, leading the company to record sales and profitability. Marty also mentors CEOs through his board activities.
Pete Davidson joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2014. In 2020, he co-wrote and starred in the semi-autobiographical film The King of Staten Island, which also earned a nomination for The Comedy Movie Star of 2020 at the 46th People’s Choice Awards. Pete also appeared in the 2021 film The Suicide Squad directed by James Gunn.
Sharon Hagle founded SpaceKids Global in 2015, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire students to excel in STEAM+ education with a focus on empowering young girls. SpaceKids hosts several annual challenges designed to inspire kids to pursue careers in the space industry, including national essay competitions and a partnership with the Girl Scouts of Citrus County. SpaceKids also participates in Club for the Future’s Postcards to Space program. To date, Sharon has reached nearly 100,000 students globally.
Marc Hagle is president and CEO of Tricor International, a residential and commercial property development corporation. Under his direction, the company has developed and owned more than 17.4 million square feet of properties across the United States, including shopping centers, warehouses, medical facilities, recreational facilities, drug stores, and office projects. Marc and his wife, Sharon, are avid philanthropists for numerous arts, sciences, health, and education-related charities.
Jim Kitchen is a teacher, entrepreneur, and world explorer who has visited all 193 U.N.-recognized countries. He’s been a space dreamer since watching NASA’s Apollo rocket launches in Florida as a child. As a college student in the 1980s, he promoted low Earth orbit space trips for a startup. Since 2010, Jim has served on the faculty of University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, teaching students to create world-changing for-profit and nonprofit ventures.
Dr. George Nield
Dr. George Nield is the president of Commercial Space Technologies, LLC, which he founded to encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space activities. He previously served as associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation and was responsible for licensing and regulating all commercial launch activities. Earlier in his career, he held engineering roles at the Air Force Flight Test Center and the Orbital Sciences Corporation, and he was an assistant professor and research director at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Nield also served as the manager of the Flight Integration Office for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
About Blue Origin
Blue Origin was founded by Jeff Bezos with the vision of enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. In order to preserve Earth, Blue Origin believes that humanity will need to expand, explore, find new energy and material resources, and move industries that stress Earth into space. Blue Origin is working on this today by developing partially and fully reusable launch vehicles that are safe, low cost and serve the needs of all civil, commercial and defense customers. Blue Origin’s efforts to fly astronauts to space on New Shepard, produce reusable liquid rocket engines, create a highly-reusable orbital launch vehicle with New Glenn, and return Americans to the surface of the Moon will add new chapters to the history of spaceflight and move us closer to fulfilling that founding vision. For more information about Blue Origin, please visit BlueOrigin.com.