(AP) — Football star and TV celebrity Michael Strahan hurtled toward space with Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Saturday, sharing the ride with the daughter of America’s first astronaut.

The co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and former New York Giant, had a football with him as Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas on the planned 10-minute flight. Carrying the two VIP guests and four paying customers, the capsule aimed for an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers).

It was expected to be five minutes and 50 miles (187 kilometers) shorter than Alan Shepard’s Mercury flight from Cape Canaveral on May 5, 1961. His eldest daughter, Laura Shepard Churchley, took along a tiny piece of his Freedom 7 capsule as well as mementos from his Apollo 14 moonshot and golf balls in honor of her dad, who smacked some on the lunar surface.

Bezos — who saw the six off from the launch and landing complex near Van Horn — named his company’s New Shepard rocket after him.

Strahan packed his Super Bowl ring and his newly retired No. 92 jersey for the ride. Bezos also put a football aboard that will go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This is Blue Origin’s third passenger flight. Bezos, who founded Amazon six years before Blue Origin, was on the debut launch in July. The second, in October, included actor William Shatner — Captain James Kirk of TV’s original “Star Trek.”

The reusable, automated capsule was especially crowded this time. Instead of four, there were six flying.

Blue Origin originally targeted Thursday for the launch, but high wind forced a delay.


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