Blue Origin space flight delayed: Michael Strahan and crew will finish training as planned

He said he's feeling "a lot more nervous" after arriving in astronaut village.

December 09, 2021, 8:26 AM

We're counting down the days as "Good Morning America" co-anchor Michael Strahan prepares for liftoff in the Blue Origin New Shepard.

The launch initially scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 9, which Strahan spent multiple days preparing for in Van Horn, Texas, with his fellow Blue Origin astronauts, has been delayed to Saturday due to weather.

"Due to forecasted winds on Thursday, December 9 and Friday, December 10, the New Shepard launch team has made the call to delay the launch of NS-19 to Saturday, December 11," Blue Origin said in a statement. "Liftoff from Launch Site One is targeted for 8:45am CST / 14:45 UTC."

According to the aerospace company, "the team has completed Flight Readiness Review and confirmed the vehicle has met all mission requirements for launch. Astronauts will complete training today and weather remains as the only gating factor for launch."

"There are strong wind gusts down here -- this morning I actually heard them -- but it's not just what's happening here as we said on the ground, it is also what's happening way up there in the sky, where we think the winds will change direction and speed," Strahan said on "Good Morning America" Thursday after the delay was announced. "We do know they've changed enough for us not to fly because it's too dangerous to go up."

An audibly anxious Strahan added, "Let's just do it and just come back from space -- but it's great down here, what can we do but just wait it out. Hopefully, on Saturday, we get the opportunity to finally take flight."

Training day 2

For day two of training, Strahan completed a run-through of launch morning at the tower, which is 80-feet above the desert floor and seven flights of stairs to get inside the safety shelter, the most secure place on the tower.

"This is the place you're going to go if anything goes wrong on the tower before we launch," Kevin Sproge, Blue Origin's Crewmember 7 in charge of training, told the astronauts. "You'll never go downstairs. The only places you go in the capsule or in this room."

The shelter is equipped with an emergency air supply, direct radio access to mission control and safety ratings to withstand explosions.

Strahan and his crewmates also crossed the gantry, or bridge to the tower, where they will load into the capsule on Thursday and rang a bell along the way, which has become a Blue Origin tradition.

"The closer we get the more these things that we do on the launch tower and walking across the bridge, ringing the bell -- the more you know this is the reality," Strahan said. "So very excited."

Finally, training ended with work inside the test capsule and learning how to perfect rolling in and out of their seats to prepare for zero gravity.

Strahan and his crew members joined "GMA" Wednesday to share their day-before take-off thoughts.

"We have been training so much going through all the different protocols, all the different safety features -- we all feel very confident and can perform any function that we may need if called upon," Strahan said. "I know we're all excited and bonded as a team here.

Laura Shepard-Churchley, fellow Blue Origin astronaut and daughter of famed astronaut Alan Shepard, channeled her dad's would-be advice.

"He probably would tell me that it was going to be a beautiful view and that I needed to look at the view as opposed to just doing somersaults in the weightlessness," she shared.

The rest of the crew includes Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick, and father-son pair Lance and Cameron Bess, who will become the first parent-child duo in space.

Safety training and what Strahan will bring to space

"This is a once in a lifetime experience, of course, you want to have your most prized possessions and meaningful belongings with you," Strahan said on "GMA" Tuesday morning. "I am taking -- my retired Giants jersey, my Hall of Fame ring, my Super Bowl ring, some special watches and the most special thing to me when my father passed away and had his military funeral," the shell casings that he said were fired from the gun, "I'm taking those with me to outer space."

Strahan continued, "My dad was a paratrooper and, you know, hopefully, I'm staying in the ship. He jumped out of planes but it makes me feel closer to him so I love my dad and that's for my pops."

He added that he's bringing his grandfather's pocket watch that was given to him by his mom to get repaired, but Strahan thought, "I had to keep it to bring it with me to space before I get it repaired."

Each passenger has a three-pound weight limit and the bags packed by Blue Origin have already been loaded onto the capsule, Strahan said. "When we get back to Earth each item we brought on board will get a special certificate saying it's traveled to outer space. It's really cool."

Strahan got his first look inside the Kármán Line, a gathering spot for Blue Origin astronauts and their plus ones meant to resemble a restaurant where the Apollo and Mercury 7 astronauts would hang out.

After a full day of training from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Strahan received his official badge along with two important phrases to use if he feels unsafe or uncomfortable and wants to get out.

"We want you to say 'time-out,'" Blue Origin Crewmember 7 Sarah Knights said, or "'I will not fly.' This is a phrase we hope to never hear from a New Shepard astronaut."

Strahan and the other Blue Origin astronauts have until t-minus 2 minutes and 30 seconds before liftoff to utter those words. After that, the vehicle controls itself and the Blue Origin team said it can be risky to stop the program.

"It's been a lot of fun, a great learning experience and I'm a little nervous," Strahan said after training. "I mean, you always get nervous, but when you learn about the safety and protocols that put you at ease."

Strahan also met his fellow crew and Blue Origin's Crewmember 7 in charge of training, Kevin Sproge, for hands-on training and stepped inside the fully accurate representation test capsule.

"Some points it's over 100 decibels, but we have custom-made earpieces -- [so] it's easily manageable," Strahan said. "We had to learn how to listen to the ground control and how to push our buttons and respond to ground control. What all the lights mean so we know certain protocols to do if things happen, the oxygen masks like you're getting on a commercial airline, so there's so many different things. Where all the cameras were, which is important because that's how you get your selfies. So you got to learn all these different things, but it was a full day of learning here and it's an experience like no other I've ever had."

Arriving for training in Texas

"I've done a lot of training camp -- but this is definitely some training like no other down here," he said after more than a decade reporting to training camp in the NFL.

Monday was Strahan's first day of training in Van Horn, Texas, which he said "is sure to be action-packed."

The former New York Giants star said he's feeling "a lot more nervous" now that he's arrived in astronaut village, but that he's "well-rested, ready to go and excited."

With his customized flight suit fitted and ready to go, Strahan found his seat assignment inside the capsule where he will be strapped in next to five fellow crewmates and soon-to-be Blue Origin astronauts.

"As you walk into the hatch, directly to your left is seat number one, and it goes all the way around clockwise to seat six," Sproge told "GMA." "The first time they go in the capsule for their training, their name tags and patches will be on their seats and that's where they'll see where they're going to be sitting."

Talking about the systems on the capsule and the flight itself, Sproge said that day one of training will help Strahan get comfortable "with the capsule itself and the environment that they're going to be in."

"What is the flight profile? What are the sounds they're going to hear? What is it going to feel like? And then we start walking them through the flight," he said.

Sarah Knights, who has worked alongside Sproge as Blue Origin Crewmember 7, added, "we want them to be incredibly comfortable with every little thing even to the point where they know they're going to know exactly where each of the cameras is inside of the vehicle so they can plan out any photos that they want to take and get really ready for what that journey will look like as they go up."

As Strahan prepares to pack his three pounds of allotted items, he said, "there are no cell phones inside the capsule." So while snapping an out-of-this-world selfie is out of the question, Strahan adjusted, saying, "now I have to learn where all those cameras are inside of the capsule so I can plan out my photos."

This story was originally published on Dec. 6, 2021.

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