Michael Strahan becomes first U.S. journalist to visit space

The GMA host and retired NFL star was one of two "honorary guests" on a Dec. 11 flight to space in one of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rockets

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Michael Strahan is no stranger to reaching great heights. 

With his name already featured in the NFL Hall of Fame, on a Super Bowl ring, and on two Daytime Emmy awards, it was only a matter of time before Strahan added space travel to his lofty list of accomplishments. 

On Saturday, the 50-year-old did so in historic fashion and he is now the first American journalist ever to embark on a space voyage, with some help from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his rocket company Blue Origin. 

Good Morning America co-anchor and former NFL star Michael Strahan stands during a media availability on the landing pad after he flew into space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard on December 11, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas. Strahan flew with five other civilians aboard mission NS-19, the third human spaceflight for the company which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Launching out of West Texas, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket transported Strahan and five other passengers to an altitude of roughly 66 miles (about four miles beyond the threshold of space, according to NASA) before parachuting the crew safely back into the desert. The entire trip lasted just about 10 minutes, per NBC News.

Accompanying Strahan on the journey was Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of the late astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to fly to space. Four other paying customers rounded out the crew of six: Voyager Space Holdings CEO Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and his son Cameron Bess.

Strahan on Nov. 23 announced his groundbreaking travel plans on Good Morning America, reminding viewers that in July he covered Bezos’s historic Blue Origin flight for the morning news show.

“Blue Origin, they approached me and they asked if I wanted to be a crew member and without hesitation, I said ‘Yes’,” Strahan told fellow GMA anchors George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts.

“I wanted to go to space,” he continued when asked why he was doing this. “I think being there at first launch, it really was mind-blowing. … I do believe [space tourism] will bring about technological breakthroughs and also innovations to us here on Earth and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

Blue Origin’s New Shepard takes off towards space carrying Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan, Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard, and four other civilians on December 11, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas. The six are riding aboard mission NS-19, the third human spaceflight for the company which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“This mission furthers the company’s vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth,” Blue Origin said in a written statement on Nov. 23.

Strahan told GMA viewers that he began preparing for the journey two weeks prior when he was measured for his flight suit: “Since I clock in at 6’5″, Blue Origin had me test out a flight seat,” Strahan said during a GMA segment about his upcoming flight.

The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 9, NBC News reported, but was delayed due to dangerously high winds.

“PRETTY SURREAL,” Strahan tweeted the day before takeoff in a series of posts expressing his excitement about the journey ahead.

All passengers on New Shepard had to abide by a 3-pound weight limit for items brought along on the ride — Strahan’s items included all 12 shell casings from the 12-gun salute performed at his father Gene Strahan‘s funeral. He also brought along his Super Bowl XLII Ring and Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence.

Other mementos that traveled to space with Strahan included two watches: his maternal grandfather’s pocket watch and “a rare De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue timepiece with a celestial face and moon-phase function.” Finally, the TV personality brought his ABC and FOX employee ID cards, a pearl necklace from his girlfriend Kayla Quick‘s late grandmother, and a $2 bill.

theGrio’s Chauncey Alcorn and Jared Alexander contributed to this report.

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