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Fri, Mar 25, 2022

NS-20 Adds New Shepard Architect to Crew

Citing the Mission Timetable Changes, Davidson Cedes Seat to Blue Origin Staff

Blue Origin announced the 6th crew member to join the upcoming New Shepard mission, selecting a company man in Gary Lai - the Shepard's chief architect. 

Gary will join the previously named crew, rounding out the group to 6 once again. Comedian Pete Davidson, of SNL fame, dropped out of the flight after the NS-20 mission timetable changed. His absence was the result of "a schedule that no longer accommodates" Davidson, leaving room for a last-minute replacement. Blue Origin didn't have to look far for a deserving passenger, finding one willing to hitch a free right almost immediately. 

Lai has the bragging rights of being the New Shepard's guiding hand, as well as being the designer of a handful of key safety systems on the Crew Capsule. His tenure at Blue Origin began in 2004 as one of the company's first 20 employees. He now holds twin titles as senior director and chief architect, responsible for all next-generation designs, upgrades, and new product development for the New Shepard ecosystem. The roles are well suited for him after a career with NASA as program manager, systems engineer, and architect along the way.

Lai has brought accolades to Blue Origin in his time there, netting the team the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association for the novel booster reusability inherent to the New Shepard's systems. In 2016, the award recognized the feat performed in the early days of the development process, citing “for successfully demonstrating rocket booster reusability with the New Shepard human spaceflight vehicle through five successful test flights of a single booster and engine, all of which performed powered vertical landings on Earth.” 

During his career, Lai has personally acquired 3 patents in space system technology, as well as several for the company. He holds degrees from Cornell, holding a Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics and Business Management, with another Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington. 

FMI: www.blueorigin.com

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