Blue Origin engineer to replace ‘SNL’ star Davidson on space flight

FILE PHOTO - Blue Origin's rocket New Shepard before the NS-18 suborbital flight mission
FILE PHOTO - A helicopter flies over a building featuring Blue Origin's logo as rocket New Shepard is prepared for the NS-18 suborbital flight mission carrying Star Trek actor William Shatner as part of a four-person crew near Van Horn, Texas, U.S., October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

March 21, 2022

(Reuters) – Blue Origin engineer Gary Lai will replace “Saturday Night Live” comic Pete Davidson in the space tourism company’s latest flight, it said on Monday.

Davidson had pulled out after the flight, originally meant to launch this week, was postponed to March 29 to run some more pre-flight tests on one of the vehicle’s subsystems.

The suborbital joyride, lasting about 10 minutes from liftoff to touchdown, will ascend to about 350,000 feet (106 km), treating passengers to a few moments of weightlessness before a descent back to Earth for a parachute landing.

Lai joined Blue Origin in 2004 and is the chief architect of the New Shepard spacecraft, a reusable rocket system that can take astronauts and research payloads to space.

The other passengers include angel investor Marty Allen, real estate veteran Marc Hagle and his wife Sharon Hagle, University of North Carolina professor Jim Kitchen and George Nield, founder-president of Commercial Space Technologies.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)