Blue Origin space tourist dies in plane crash

De Vries took the brief trip to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. Source: AFP.

WASHINGTON: US businessman Glen de Vries, who flew into space with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner on last month’s Blue Origin flight, has died in a plane crash.

The small aircraft came down in Hampton Township, New Jersey, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of New York City, shortly before 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Thursday, a spokesman for New Jersey state police said.

“There are two confirmed fatalities,” the spokesman said, naming de Vries, 49, and 54-year-old Thomas Fischer.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will be the lead investigating agency,” he added, without providing more details.

De Vries, the founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions, joined Shatner on Blue Origin’s second crewed mission on October 13.

Also on board for the 11-minute journey that took them beyond Earth’s atmosphere and back again were Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers and Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen.

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries,” Blue Origin said in a tweet. “He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”

De Vries took the brief trip to space on October 13 aboard a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket alongside famous sci-fi actor William Shatner, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations.

“I’ve spent my entire career working to extend people’s lives. However, with limited materials and energy on Earth, extending our reach into space can help humanity continue to thrive,” de Vries said in a statement prior to the mission. De Vries’ career centered on developing software that assists in medical research.

“I had that heightened sense of time in my mind starting from the countdown,” de Vries said after his Blue Origin flight. “I think I’ve taken that perspective back down with me to our planet, and into my relationships. The passage of time, just like the resources on Earth, feels more precious with expanded perspective.”

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