Top stories this week: Astronaut Doug Hurley retires, 18 year old flying to space on New Shepard & more

This week, the fourth crew member to fly on New Shepard was announced, A Shortfall of Gravitas arrived in Florida, and Astronaut Doug Hurley announced his retirement.

Astronaut Doug Hurley Retires

Doug Hurley began his career in flight in 1988 in the US Marine Corp. He became a test pilot and became an expert with the F/A-18 Super Hornet. In 2000, he joined NASA. He took part in rollout and landings for the Shuttle, and worked on the reconstruction following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

His flew twice on the Space Shuttle; during STS-127 and STS-135. During both flights, he served as the vehicles pilot. STS-135 marked the end of the Space Shuttle. On the mission, he delivered a historic flag to the ISS, one that wasn’t to be returned until the US returned to space.

That flag previously flew on STS-1, but Hurley was not saying goodbye to that flag for good.

In 2015, Hurley was assigned to NASA’s commercial crew program, and in 2018 he was a selected to be the commander for SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission. This historic mission, which launched in May of 2020, marked the return of Crewed spaceflight to American soil. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken launched in a Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station. During the two month mission, they retrieved the Flag which was left during during the final flight for the Space Shuttle.

“For 21 years, I’ve had the incredible honor of participating in the American space program and working alongside the extremely dedicated people of NASA. To have had a place in the assembly of the International Space Station, and the Space Shuttle Program including flying on its final mission, STS-135, has been a tremendous privilege”

Astronaut Doug Hurley

His trailblazing career can hardly be summarized in just a few paragraphs, but he leaves a lasting impact and legacy behind.

Youngest person to fly to space on New Shepard

It has been a while since the auction for a seat to fly on New Shepard. We had expected to learn the auction winner’s identity sooner, but now we know the reason for the delay. The mysterious auction winner has had a ‘scheduling conflict’ and is unable to fly. Instead, 18 year old Oliver Daemon will be taking the seat. The auction winner will fly on a later flight.

Unlike the others on the ship; Wally Funk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemon is hardly a name you would recognize. He is a recent high-school graduate bound for the University of Utrecht to study physics and innovation management. He participated in the auction, and was is Blue Origin’s first paying customer.

His addition to the flight certainly makes it one for the history books. The New Shepard launch will simultaneously fly the youngest person (Oliver Daemon, 18) and the oldest person (Wally Funk, 82) in space. You won’t be able to watch the flight in person, so you’ll have to check out Blue Origin’s live stream.

A Shortfall of Gravitas arrives in Florida

SpaceX’s latest droneship, A Shortfall of Gravitas, has been under construction in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. It recently made the journey around Florida, and on Thursday the new droneship arrived in Port Canaveral. The Space Explored team was on the coast and ready to capture photos of the arrival. This droneship is the latest design, and is fully autonomous.

Hubble space telescope back online

The Hubble Space Telescope, which launched back in 1990, went offline last month due to a computer issue. After a number of attempted fixes, the teams were able to bring the telescope back online. Through its life thus far, the Hubble has gathered valuable data to increase our understanding of the world. This fix means it can continue to gather information, even as a more powerful successor prepares for launch later this year.

Suits on display

This week, three space-related outfits have been put on display. At the National Air and Space Museum (which recently received a massive donation by Jeff Bezos) the suit of Travis Thompson is on display. Travis Thompson worked on every single Space Shuttle mission. By time the Space Shuttle program came to an end, he served as the team leader for the Closeout Crew, now, his iconic Closeout Crew suit is on display.

Two more iconic suits went on display at Kennedy Space Center this week. The suits of Demo-2 Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley went on display. The suits will only be on display for 60 days. The Demo-2 mission marked the return of spaceflight to American soil, and Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken led the way in the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

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