Andhra-born Gopi Thotakura makes history, becomes first Indian to go to space as tourist | Space

India-born Gopi Thotakura made history on Sunday evening as he became the first Indian citizen to venture into space as a tourist. He was part of the elite crew for Blue Origin’s New Shepard-25 (NS-25) mission, which took off from the company’s West Texas launch site in the US around 8:05 pm (IST), an hour late from its scheduled launch time of 9:35 am (local US time).
Born in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Gopi, an entrepreneur and a pilot, journeyed to the edge of space beyond the Earth’s atmosphere along with five others — Ed Dwight, Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L Hess and Carol Schaller. Ed Dwight (90) is now the oldest man on Earth to go to space.

Gopi has retained his Indian passport despite working in the US. Although he became the first Indian citizen to go to space as a tourist, he is officially the second astronaut from the country after Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, who flew as a professional cosmonaut to space on board Soyuz T-11 on April 3, 1984, as part of the Soviet Interkosmos programme. Astronauts Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Raja Chari, and Sirisha Bandla were all US citizens of Indian origin who also went to space as professional astronauts. TOI had earlier reported on Gopi’s probable entry to the elite astronaut club.

Following takeoff, the NS-25 vehicle reached beyond the boundary of space smoothly. The rocket and capsule then returned…


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