Pilot from Andhra Pradesh to soar into space as first Indian tourist

Gopi will become the first India-born space tourist to breach the Earth's atmosphere and experience zero-gravity space.

Hyderabad: On the horizon lies a historic moment for India, as Gopi Thotakura prepares to soar into the cosmos on the Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin’s New Shephard-25 (NS-25) mission, marking him as the first Indian space tourist. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada, Gopi, an entrepreneur, and a pilot, will embark on a celestial journey alongside five other crew members.

Each member of the NS-25 will carry a postcard, symbolizing the dreams and aspirations of youngsters worldwide. The launch date of this groundbreaking space flight is yet to be announced by Blue Origin.

Gopi is a co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global wellness and health center situated near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

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He holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. As a seasoned pilot, Gopi has experience in medical air evacuation services in India and has a passion for flying jets, bush planes, aerobatic and seaplanes, gliders, and hot air balloons.

His most recent adventure saw him conquering the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force Wing Commander, was the first Indian citizen to journey into space in 1984, Gopi will become the first India-born space tourist to breach the Earth’s atmosphere and experience zero-gravity space.

Gopi will be accompanied by Ed Dwight, a former Air Force Captain and the first African American astronaut candidate selected by US President John F Kennedy in 1961, who never had the opportunity to fly to space.

The rest of Gopi’s crew includes Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Ken Hess, and Carol Schaller.Blue Origin’s New Shephard was designed as a fully reusable sub-orbital launch vehicle for space tourism. In 2021, Jeff Bezos and three other individuals embarked on a space tour in this launch vehicle.

The vehicle is a reusable rocket system crafted to transport astronauts and research payloads beyond the Karman line. Environmentally, nearly 99% of New Shepard’s dry mass is reused, including the booster, capsule, engine, landing gear, and parachutes.

New Shepard’s engine is fueled by highly efficient liquid oxygen and hydrogen, with water vapor as the only byproduct during flight, resulting in no carbon emissions. Blue Origin’s website promises an unforgettable 11-minute journey aboard New Shepard, whether you are an astronaut or dispatching a payload into space.

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