X-Plane Gallery with people


This Week’s Blue Origin Launch Has a Cosmosphere Connection

Blue Origin, the space company owned by Jeff Bezos, is scheduled to launch its third crewed spaceflight this week. One of the flight’s six passengers has a special Cosmosphere connection.

Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, joins five other passengers in the capsule of Thursday’s NS-19 launch.

Ms. Shepard Churchley served on Cosmosphere’s Foundation Board from 2003-2008.

“We’re thrilled that astronaut Alan Shepard’s daughter and friend of the Cosmosphere, Laura Shepard Churchley, will be on the 19th flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle, named in her father’s honor” said Jim Remar, Cosmosphere president and CEO. “Laura recalls her childhood excitement at learning her father would fly into space in an oral history interview that plays for visitors in our Hall of Space Museum. We at the Cosmosphere felt that excitement ourselves when we learned Laura herself would be aboard the NS-19.”

CLICK HERE for the latest on launch scheduling and mission updates.

Cosmosphere visitors can reflect on the similarities and differences in the father-daughter duo’s space capsule experiences. Ms. Shepard Churchley will be one of six passengers in a capsule with six seats around the perimeter. Alan Shepard, her father, made his historic suborbital flight sixty years ago alone in the relatively cramped quarters of a Mercury capsule built for one.

A flown Mercury capsule, the Liberty Bell 7, is on display at the Cosmosphere, where visitors can peer inside the spacecraft.

Visitors to the Cosmosphere can also marvel at two autographed photos on loan from the personal collection of Laura Shepard Churchley, and the actual Omega watch worn by Alan Shepard during his Apollo 14 Moon landing, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and displayed in Cosmosphere’s Grand Lobby. Shepard landed on the Moon ten years after his pioneering Mercury mission.


The Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate. Located at 1100 North Plum in Hutchinson, KS, its collection includes U.S. space artifacts second only to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. This unique collection allows the Cosmosphere to tell the story of the Space Race better than any museum in the world while offering fully immersive education experiences that meet Next Generation Science Standards. It is also home to one of the nation’s premiere space summer camps. For more information visit cosmo.org.