Who Is Gopi Thotakura? Know All About The First Indian 'Space Tourist'

Who Is Gopi Thotakura? Know All About The First Indian 'Space Tourist'

Gopi Thotakura, was part of the elite crew for Blue Origin’s New Shepard-25 (NS-25) mission. The NS-25 mission took off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site in the USA.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 03:26 PM IST
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Gopi Thotakura, the first Indian space tourist and the second Indian to venture into space. | Screen Grab

Gopi Thotakura, the first Indian tourist to travel on Blue Origin's NS-25 mission, which was funded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, held up the Indian flag in space as he accomplished the historic feat. On Sunday, Blue Origin launched a six-person crew from West Texas to the edge of space, resuming its much-discussed space tourism business for the first time since its suborbital rocket was grounded in 2022.

In a video shared on social media by Blue Origin, Thotakura, 30, first held up a banner which read "I am an eco-warrior for our sustainable planet".

The six space tourists can be seen expressing their excitement as they float inside the space ship and look out of the window to Earth below. The capsule carrying the astronauts returned to Earth roughly 10 minutes after take-off. The oldest space tourist on the Blue Origin flight was 90-year-old Ed Dwight, the first US Black astronaut candidate from the 1960s. Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos himself had flown to the edge of space in his space company's space tourist mission in 2021.

Who is Gopi Thotakura?

Introducing Gopi Thotakura, the Blue Origin on their X account said, "Gopi Thotakura is a lifelong pilot and aviator who learned how to fly before he could drive. He flies jets commercially, in addition to piloting bush, aerobatic, and seaplanes. He’s also the co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health."

After Rakesh Sharma in 1984, Thotakura is the first Indian space tourist and the second Indian astronaut. Gopichand Thotakura, an Andhra Pradesh native, is a pilot and aviator who learned to fly before getting his driver's license, according to Blue Origin. He now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US. Coventry University in the United Arab Emirates awarded him a degree in Aviation Management and Operations. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, he earned his bachelor's degree in aeronautical science.

Preserve Life Corp., a global hub for applied health and holistic wellness close to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, was co-founded by Thotakura.

About The NS-25 mission

Space Tourism Pursuits of Blue Origin The NS-25 mission from Blue Origin is the program's seventh human flight, with plans to go beyond suborbital travel. These flights serve as a springboard for greater goals, such as lunar exploration, according to Jeff Bezos. 31 people have flown in space on New Shepard to date, including well-known people like Michael Strahan and William Shatner. Blue Origin intends to build on Alan Shepard's legacy and the New Shepard program by working with NASA to advance lunar exploration efforts in the future.

Mission NS-25: Six Members of New Shepard

Gopichand Thotakura

Gopichand Thotakura | X: (@blueorigin)

Gopichand Thotakura: An Indian-born entrepreneur and the first pilot to make a space tour.

Ed Dwight

Ed Dwight | X: (@blueorigin)

Ed Dwight: A former pilot in the Air Force, Dwight is making his space flight decades after being turned down by NASA for the astronaut corps. At ninety-nine, he becomes the oldest person in space.

Mason Angel

Mason Angel | X: (@blueorigin)

Mason Angel: Industrious Ventures' founder, Angel provides the team with experience in entrepreneurship.

Sylvain Chiron

Sylvain Chiron | X: (@blueorigin)

Sylvain Chiron: Renowned for spearheading Brasserie Mont Blanc, Chiron represents France in the crew.

Kenneth L. Hess

Kenneth L. Hess | X: (@blueorigin)

Kenneth L Hess: A software engineer and entrepreneur, Hess contributes technical expertise to the mission.

Carol Schaller

Carol Schaller | X: (@blueorigin)

Carol Schaller: The last adventurer for NS-25, Schaller is a retired Certified Public Accountant.

Watch: Airlift Of Blue Origin's NS-25 Mission Aircraft

Indians Who Have Been To Space

The only other Indian national to visit space as a tourist was Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, before Gopi Thotakura. Sharma made his space debut as a professional cosmonaut on April 3, 1984, aboard a Soyuz T-11 as part of the Soviet Interkosmos program. In addition to Sharma, the other Indian-born astronauts to visit space are US citizens Kalpana Chawala, Sunita Williams, Raja Chari, and Sirisha Bandla.

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