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India to Launch Citizen Astronaut via SERA Program

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India to Launch Citizen Astronaut via SERA Program

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The Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), in collaboration with Blue Origin, has announced India as a partner nation in their human spaceflight program for citizens from countries who have sent few or no astronauts to space. SERA, a US-based agency, will offer citizens from across the world six seats on a future mission of New Shepard, Blue Origin’s reusable suborbital rocket.

New Shepard will fly the selected astronauts on an 11-minute journey past the Kármán line (100 km), the internationally recognized boundary of space. Astronauts will experience several minutes of weightlessness before making a controlled descent back to the landing pad.

“We’re excited to have India as part of our human spaceflight program,” said Joshua Skurla, Co-Founder, SERA. “India has achieved remarkable milestones in its space journey the past few years, including becoming the first country to reach the Moon’s southern pole. We want to make space accessible for everyone and are happy to offer this unique opportunity to an Indian citizen who wants to experience the wonders of space travel.”

Any Indian citizen can register for the program by paying a fee of ~$2.50 to cover the costs of verification checks that ensure safe and fair voting. The final candidates will be voted on by the public for an opportunity to fly to space onboard the New Shepard mission. 

“Our mission is to democratize space by enabling citizens from over 150 countries with limited access to space to participate in ground-breaking research and create history,” added Joshua Skurla. “Our aim is to empower people globally to have a voice and stake in the future of space exploration.”

The potential astronauts will be required to meet Blue Origin’s physical requirements. They can garner votes by telling their story to the public using their mission profile pages, social media, and other resources. Voting will progress through candidate elimination across three phases. The public will vote only for candidates from their nation or region, except for the sixth global seat.

“By giving communities the power to choose their astronauts, we ensure this mission is driven by people, for people,” said Sam Hutchison, Co-Founder, SERA. “This approach will ignite national conversations on space and foster international collaboration in space exploration. The minimal physical requirements and training for New Shepard’s flight lowers the barrier to entry by allowing more diverse and inclusive participation in space.”

“This program exemplifies our commitment to making space accessible to everyone,” said Phil Joyce, SVP, New Shepard. “We’re proud to support SERA in their efforts to send an Indian citizen to space and inspire the next generation of space explorers.”

The final six crew will arrive three days prior to the flight for training at Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas.

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