Jeff Bezos will launch into space out of Van Horn tomorrow, and it's due in part thanks to a handful of UTEP engineering graduates.


Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, will become the second billionaire and private company in the last 2-weeks to launch into space onboard the New Shepard rocket developed by Blue Origin on the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.

Not only is Bezos making history by launching into space, but the engineering crew behind the first unpiloted suborbital flight with a civilian crew was made possible by a few UTEP grads. According to Heather Wilson, UTEP's president, three-quarters of Jeff Bezos' engineering team is made up of UTEP graduates.

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KVIA also recently reported that Heather Wilson currently sits as an advisor for Blue Origin, a role she took further to grow the relationship between its aerospace program and UTEP.

If successful, Blue Origin will become the second private company behind Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to fly civilians into space and the first to do so on a reusable rocket and capsule.

Amazon CEO And Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos Speaks At Air Force Association Air, Space And Cyber Conference
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On Tuesday, Bezos will take the trip of a lifetime accompanied by three others; his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen.

Wally Funk, 82, is the former test pilot who was one of the Mercury 13 women who underwent training in the 1960s to demonstrate that women could meet NASA’s standards for its astronaut corps, becoming the oldest person to ever head to space.

Oliver Daemen happens to be the second auction bidder after an anonymous person won a 28 million dollar bid for a seat onboard the flight but backed out earlier last week due to a scheduling conflict.

Blue Origin Prepares For Manned Launch Of New Shepard Rocket
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Bezos' Blue Origin New Shepard rocket will lift off (weather permitting) at 8 a.m. (CST) / 9 a.m. (MST) from Blue Origin's Corn Ranch launch site, approximately 150 miles from El Paso, on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

How To Watch:

  • Tune in to the live stream available on Blue Origin's website,, beginning 6:30 a.m. CST / 7:30 a.m. (MST).
  • Or, for a closer connection, El Pasoans and spectators alike can join the free public watch party planned at the Karen D. Young Auditorium at 801 Houston St. in Van Horn beginning at 7:30 a.m. CST.

While billionaires such as Bezos, Branson, and Elon Musk (who also plans a trip to space soon) are funding the future of space travel, it's areospace engineers, like our UTEP grads, who are making it possible for future generations to reach the stars.

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