Do We Need Pete Davidson in Space?

Image (Credit): Pete Davidson in a Saturday Night Live skit. (NBC)

Okay, I can understand shooting actor William Shatner into space on a Blue Origin rocket given his work with Star Trek and his interest in space itself, but Pete Davidson from SNL fame? Really? Luckily, his part in the mission was scrubbed.

So who will go up into space tomorrow on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket? You may even ask if there will be a launch given the lack of media interest. And now we know why actors are key to the success of these private rocket missions unless they are doing something useful, like testing new scientific ideas or pushing to boundaries of space. Anything else is like listing the names of people flying to China on Delta Airlines.

I do not really care about celebrities in space (unless we leave them there), so I will provide the upcoming launches full crew manifest (in alphabetical order) without such hype:

Marty Allen

Marty Allen is a turnaround CEO and angel investor. During his tenure as CEO of Party America, he transformed the company from a broken California retail chain into a large nationwide retailer, leading the company through a bankruptcy restructuring and the acquisition of several competitors. He is also the former CEO of California Closet Company, leading the company to record sales and profitability. Marty also mentors CEOs through his board activities.

Sharon Hagle

Sharon Hagle founded SpaceKids Global in 2015, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire students to excel in STEAM+ education with a focus on empowering young girls. SpaceKids hosts several annual challenges designed to inspire kids to pursue careers in the space industry, including national essay competitions and a partnership with the Girl Scouts of Citrus County. SpaceKids also participates in Club for the Future’s Postcards to Space program. To date, Sharon has reached nearly 100,000 students globally.

Marc Hagle

Marc Hagle is president and CEO of Tricor International, a residential and commercial property development corporation. Under his direction, the company has developed and owned more than 17.4 million square feet of properties across the United States, including shopping centers, warehouses, medical facilities, recreational facilities, drug stores, and office projects. Marc and his wife, Sharon, are avid philanthropists for numerous arts, sciences, health, and education-related charities.

Jim Kitchen

Jim Kitchen is a teacher, entrepreneur, and world explorer who has visited all 193 U.N.-recognized countries. He’s been a space dreamer since watching NASA’s Apollo rocket launches in Florida as a child. As a college student in the 1980s, he promoted low Earth orbit space trips for a startup. Since 2010, Jim has served on the faculty of University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, teaching students to create world-changing for-profit and nonprofit ventures.

Gary Lai

Gary joined Blue Origin in 2004 and was among the first 20 employees. He is currently Senior Director and Chief Architect of New Shepard, responsible for all next generation designs, upgrades, and new product development for the New Shepard business. His prior positions include Senior Director of Design Engineering, System Architect, Crew Capsule Element Lead, NASA Commercial Crew Development Program Manager, Lead Systems Engineer, and Pathfinding Lead with responsibility for advanced research and development. Gary has been involved in product development, strategic planning, and business development for all Blue Origin product lines, including the New Glenn orbital launch vehicle, rocket engine programs, and Blue Moon.

Dr. George Nield

Dr. George Nield is the president of Commercial Space Technologies, LLC, which he founded to encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space activities. He previously served as associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation and was responsible for licensing and regulating all commercial launch activities. Earlier in his career, he held engineering roles at the Air Force Flight Test Center and the Orbital Sciences Corporation, and he was an assistant professor and research director at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Nield also served as the manager of the Flight Integration Office for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Of course, I am not so interested in space tourism either, but I listed these names for fun this one time. If these flights lead to greater confidence at Blue Origin and something new that advances space travel or science, then I am fine. If these are just grandiose trips to the stars, then I am not so impressed.