Andhra-born Gopi Thotakura becomes first Indian space tourist

The NS-25 mission marked the seventh human flight for Blue Origin's New Shepard program.

Gopi Thotakura. / X@blueorigin

Gopi Thotakura, an entrepreneur and pilot, on May.19 became the first Indian to venture into space as a tourist aboard Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin's NS-25 mission. 

Thotakura was selected as one of the six crew members for Blue Origin's NS-25 mission, making him the first Indian space tourist. The human flight lifted off from Launch Site One in West Texas on May.19, the company announced on social media.

The NS-25 mission marked the seventh human flight for Blue Origin's New Shepard program and the 25th flight in its history. To date, the program has flown 31 humans above the Karman line, the proposed conventional boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

New Shepard returned to space tourism after a two-year hiatus following a rocket mishap in September 2022.

New Shepard is a fully reusable sub-orbital launch vehicle developed by Blue Origin for space tourism.

According to Blue Origin, "Gopi is a pilot and aviator who learned how to fly before he could drive."

He co-founded Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In addition to flying jets commercially, Thotakura pilots bush, aerobatic, and seaplanes, as well as gliders and hot air balloons. He has also served as an international medical jet pilot.

Andhra Pradesh-born Thotakura is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The flight's crew comprised Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and Ed Dwight, a former Air Force Captain who, in 1961, was chosen by President John F. Kennedy as the first Black astronaut candidate in the nation's history but never got the chance to journey into space.