Someone was the first Indian and someone was a 90 year old man…this is how history was created in the world of space.

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
3 Min Read

New Delhi: India-born Gopi Thotakura has created history. He has become the first Indian to become a space tourist. He took part in the New Shepard-25 (NS-25) mission of American company Blue Origin. This mission was launched on Sunday evening from Texas, USA. Born in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Gopi is an entrepreneur and pilot. Gopi traveled to space with five others – Ed Dwight, Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hayes and Carroll Schaller. 90-year-old Ed Dwight is the oldest person on Earth to go to space.

Despite working in America, Gopi has retained her Indian passport. Gopi became the first Indian citizen to go to space as a tourist, but he is officially the country's second astronaut after Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma. Who traveled into space as a professional astronaut on 3 April 1984 aboard Soyuz T-11 under the Soviet Intercosmos program. Astronauts Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Raja Chari and Sirisha Bandla were all Indian-American citizens who went into space as professional astronauts.

The New Shepard-25 mission was Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin's first crewed launch in nearly two years. “Welcome to capsule landing, NS25 crew!” Blue Origin said in a post on Twitter. Introducing the Indian space tourist, a Blue Origin statement said Gopi Thotakura learned to fly before driving. With this, America's first black astronaut Ed Dwight finally flew in space after 60 years. Dwight, a former Air Force captain, was selected in 1961 but never got the chance to fly in space with NASA.

Finally at the age of 90 years, 8 months and 10 days he reached space. This flight is Blue Origin's first tourist mission on New Shepard after August 2022. The company was forced to halt flights of the rocket after the New Shepard vehicle's engine malfunctioned during an unmanned mission in September 2022. Blue Origin spent most of 2023 investigating the failure and improving the design.

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