New Delhi. 23 April 2024. The Space Exploration & Research Agency (SERA) announced a partnership with Blue Origin to develop a human spaceflight program for citizens of nations who have historically lacked access to space. The program will provide the opportunity for everyday citizens from around the world to become astronauts and participate in space science. Its first flight has reserved all six seats on a future Blue Origin New Shepard mission.

In line with the mission’s objective to make space more accessible, five of the seats will be allocated to five partner nations who have either never had an astronaut or very few. The sixth seat will be open to a person from any nation. SERA is collaborating with National Space Agencies and regional research institutions to support the mission and develop the science experiment payloads onboard the flight. Both the final astronaut selection and science experiments will be determined by the community. Partner nations will be announced over the coming months.

This program builds on an earlier collaboration between SERA (formerly CSA) and Blue Origin which made it possible for Victor Hespanha, a 28-year-old civil engineer from Minas Gerais, to become the second Brazilian in space and a national hero. Victor was selected at random from the SERA community and flew on NS-21, Blue Origin’s fifth crewed flight, on 4 June 2022.

“Nearly 150 countries have never had an astronaut,” said Joshua Skurla, Co-Founder of SERA. “We created this program to change this. Victor’s flight showed us how one person can inspire and excite an entire nation about the potential of space and we want to repeat that on a much larger scale. Blue Origin helps make this possible and we share the vision of making space more accessible for everyone.”

“Our future life in space must reflect the rich diversity here on Earth,” said Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President, New Shepard Business Unit, Blue Origin. “This program is a meaningful step toward making space accessible to people who would otherwise not have an opportunity to experience its wonders. It also inspires their fellow citizens—and many others beyond their borders—along the way.”

Until now, space has been an exclusive domain, with over 80% of all astronauts to date coming from just three countries. Those same three countries currently own and operate nearly 80% of in-space infrastructure. SERA, whose mission is to create a space agency for everyone and accelerate global participation in the space sector, was founded to address this historical imbalance.

“Despite the trillions spent by governments, there have usually been only a handful of people in space at any given time over the last three decades,” says Sam Hutchison, Co-Founder of SERA. “The unimaginably rich material and energy resources of the solar system remain entirely untapped. With launch costs coming down this is all about to change, and SERA wants to make sure that everyone on Earth has the chance to participate in the growth of the offworld economy.”