Blue Origin launch
Blue Origin launches its fifth crewed capsule mission from its base near Van Horn, Texas. Image from video via Reuters

Jeff Bezos’ space tourism venture Blue Origin completed its fifth crewed launch on Saturday, with a New Shepard rocket carrying a young woman with ties to Mexico and San Diego to the edge of space.

Aboard the rocket for the 10-minute journey was Katya Echazarreta, a 26-year-old electrical engineer who was born in Guadalajara, migrated to the United States at the age of 7, and graduated from San Diego City College and UCLA.

“It was an honor to fly this special crew of explorers and true pioneers today,” said Phil Joyce, senior vice president for Blue Origin.

“Each mission is an opportunity to provide another six people the life-changing experience of witnessing the beauty and fragility of our planet from space,” he added.

The company’s suborbital joyride hits an altitude of about 350,000 feet, treating passengers to a short period of weightlessness before a descent back to Earth for a parachute landing.

Echazarreta is working on her master’s degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins University. She has a following of over 330,000 peoples on TikTok and is a presenter on the weekend CBS show “Mission Unstoppable.”

Her flight was sponsored by Space for Humanity, which was founded in 2017 by space industry investor Dylan Taylor, who recently joined a Blue Origin flight himself.

“We were looking for some like people who were leaders in their communities, who have a sphere of influence; people who are doing really great work in the world already, and people who are passionate about whatever that is,” said Rachel Lyons, the nonprofit’s executive director, in an interview with CNN.

NASA has touted such missions as a milestone in the expansion of privately funded space-based commerce, constituting what industry insiders call the “low-Earth orbit economy,” or “LEO economy” for short.

Reuters contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.