July 14, 2021 1210 PM
CULBERSON COUNTY – Blue Origin plans to send its first four humans from a launch pad near Van Horn, just beyond Earth’s atmosphere, and into space on Tuesday.
Four intrepid travelers are set to reach the edge of space before returning to a patch of earth outside of Van Horn mere minutes later, with Blue Origin founder and billionaire Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos on board. Joining Bezos are his brother, Mark Bezos; lifelong-aspiring astronaut Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk; and a fourth unannounced person who bid $28 million to ride along. The small group of astronauts will each take a seat aboard New Shepard, a craft that is completely manned by onboard computers.
Those wanting to witness the historic event may have to tune into an online stream of the launch at www.blueorigin.com, since there are no on-site viewing locations at the Corn Ranch just north of Van Horn, where Blue Origin will hold its sixteenth launch of the reusable New Shepard craft.
At the request of Blue Origin, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to close down sections of Highway 54 on launch day, where enthusiastic viewers have often gathered to watch test flights in the past.
According to a TxDOT spokesperson, once permits are finalized for the closure, “The public should expect a closure from 7 – 11 a.m. CST from I-10 to 62/180 with only local traffic being permitted approximately 21 miles north of Van Horn, and approximately 34 miles south of Highway 62/180.”
“While many have inquired about roadside viewing,” the spokesperson wrote, “TxDOT reminds the public of the inherent dangers of parking alongside a highway and exiting one’s vehicle.”
Blue Origin will begin a launch broadcast at 6:30 a.m., with liftoff planned for 8 a.m.