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Historic Achievement: Gopi Thotakura, India’s First Space Tourist

Gopi Thotakura, an Indian expat, made history by being the first and second Indians to travel into space as a member of the Blue Origin crew on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ NS-25 mission. Thotakura is the first Indian space tourist.

On Sunday, the Blue Origin accomplished its seventh successful human spaceflight and the 25th mission for the New Shepard programme.

Gopi Thotakura, an Andhra native, was one of the crew’s five members.

According to Blue Origin’s official website, in addition to Gopi Thotakura, the astronaut crew also included Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, who was chosen by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the country’s first black astronaut candidate but was never given the chance to fly.

Moreover, New Shepard has now flown 37 people into space, including today’s crew.

Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President, New Shepard, said, “A big thank you to our astronaut customers for the opportunity to provide this life-changing experience.”

“Each of you are pioneers helping to advance our mission to build a road to space for the benefit of Earth,” Joyce added.

Last month, in an exclusive interview to ANI, Thotakura spoke about his dream and passion for flying and how the mission is working towards protecting Mother Earth. He further spoke about space tourism and how it can open avenues and make it affordable and accessible for civilians.

Elucidating his feelings, he had 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. 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 to look back and see what’s going on, without being documented or without someone else’s eye.”

He further emphasised Blue Origin’s tagline, ‘For the benefit of Earth’ and added that he also feels that protecting Mother Earth is important. “It is for them to protect Mother Earth that they are seeking life and adventure outside the planet,” he said.

Moreover, each astronaut carried a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future. The club’s mission is to inspire and mobilise future generations to pursue careers in STEAM for the benefit of Earth.

Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot, was the first Indian citizen to fly to space in 1984.

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