Gopi Thotakura to become first Indian space tourist, flying aboard Bezos’ Blue Origin mission

Six-person crew flying on NS-25 mission. PHOTO:

Gopi Thotakura is poised to make history as the first Indian tourist in space aboard the NS-25 mission by Blue Origin, a company established by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

In a press release, Blue Origin said the six-person crew flying on its NS-25 mission include Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, Gopi Thotakura, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, “who was selected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.”

In an interview with ANI, Thotakura said, “I can’t express my feelings right now because it is something that is not in the urban dictionary. It is something I take with me. I always tell people that right from when you are born till the time you leave, you wake up and want to see the sky, want to take a breath, but I want to have this opportunity to do the reverse, to go up there and see down here.”

The Blue Origin press release provided a profile of Thotakura. “Gopi is a pilot and aviator who learned how to fly before he could drive. He’s co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport,” added the Blue Origin press release. “In addition to flying jets commercially, Gopi pilots bush, aerobatic, and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons, and has served as an international medical jet pilot. A lifelong traveler, his most recent adventure took him to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.”

The graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Thotakura told ANI, “Movies do a fantastic job but (to see) what the naked eye can see, you have to do that yourself. The whole excitement is about looking back and seeing what’s going on, without being documented or without someone else’s eye,” Thotakura added.

When asked about space tourism, he noted “The mission for Blue Origin or any other company is to make it affordable. What the affordable number is, we still don’t know but to make it affordable, it has to start somewhere.”

This upcoming mission marks the seventh human flight within the New Shepard program and its 25th overall since its inception. Thus far, the program has successfully flown 31 individuals beyond the Kármán line.



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