Former NFL star Michael Strahan heads to outer space

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Former NFL star Michael Strahan is getting ready for lift-off — heading into space this morning on billionaire Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard rocket.

The Good Morning America co-anchor, former New York Giant and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee will hover more than 60 miles above the earth, along with five other passengers, including Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard, for whom the Blue Origin rocket is named.

Shepard went on a suborbital flight in 1961, becoming the first American to travel into space. A decade later, he walked on the moon.

Lift-off for the New Shepard’s suborbital flight is scheduled for 9:45 am EST and will be streamed live on the New Shepard Mission NS-19 webcast on YouTube. It will take off from Bezos’ sprawling ranch near Van Horn, Texas. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was canceled due to high winds.

The 10-minute “up and down” flight, the nineteenth New Shepard mission and the third with passengers on board, will include up to four minutes of weightlessness before a parachute descent to earth.

The Blue Origin launch site preparing for the ten-minute flight.
The Blue Origin launch site preparing for the ten-minute flight.
Blue Origin

In addition to Strahan and Churchley, the crew will feature four others, including investors Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick, Lane Bess and his son Cameron. While Strahan and Churchley are flying as guests of Blue Origin, the others have paid undisclosed amounts to take the flight.

In October, actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek, launched on Blue Origin’s 18th flight along with three other crew members. Before that, Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teenager, took off on July 20 on Blue Origin’s first sub-orbital flight.

Video grab shows Strahan ringing the bell as he gets ready to board the space craft.
Video grab shows Strahan ringing the bell as he gets ready to board the space craft.
Blue Origin

In an interview on “Good Morning America,” Strahan asked Churchley what she was most excited about.

Strahan and the rest of the crew prepare for take off on Saturday morning.
Strahan and the rest of the crew prepare for take off on Saturday morning.
Blue Origin

“I’m excited to kind of be following in my father’s footsteps, for starters,” she said. “And I’m excited just to go up into space to see what it all looks like. I’ve been looking at stars with my father forever, and now we’re all going to get really close. And it’s just going to be thrilling.”

The crew prior to boarding. The ten-minute flight will take them about 60 miles above Earth.
The crew prior to boarding. The ten-minute flight will take them about 60 miles above Earth.
Blue Origin

Bezos, who stepped down as CEO of Amazon in July, is locked in a space race with billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which has launched four space flights, sending Branson himself into orbit on July 11. Branson beat Bezos to the edge of outer space by several days.

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