Gopichand Thotakura Makes History as First Indian on Blue Origin's Space Mission

On Sunday, Captain Gopichand Thotakura became the first Indian to journey to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s crewed flight mission. Born in Vijayawada, Thotakura is the second Indian to reach space, following Rakesh Sharma’s iconic flight on Russia’s Soyuz T-11 spacecraft in 1984.

Since Sharma, three individuals of Indian origin have traveled to space: Kalpana Chawla in 1997, Sunita Williams in 2006, and Raja Chari in 2021, all as NASA astronauts.

“Capsule touchdown. Welcome back, #NS25 crew!” announced Blue Origin on X.

This seventh human flight by Jeff Bezos’s company included five others: 90-year-old Ed Dwight, Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, and Carol Schaller. The 11-minute flight launched at 8:06 PM IST from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas.

The reusable New Shepard rocket, on its 25th mission, carried the six-person crew beyond the Karman line, the internationally recognized boundary of space at 100 km above Earth’s surface. This flight marks Blue Origin’s return to space missions after nearly two years, following the grounding of New Shepard due to a failed uncrewed launch in September 2022.