Dubai resident
Dubai resident Hamish Harding will be part of the crew on Blue Origin’s NS-21 flight into space this Saturday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: From the deepest point on Earth to outer space, long-time Dubai resident Hamish Harding, chairman of Action Aviation, will continue his exploration as part of the crew on Blue Origin’s NS-21 flight into space on Saturday, June 4.

In March last year, Harding, along with renowned ocean explorer Victor Vescovo, had traversed the full length of the deepest section of the Challenger Deep — the deepest point on Earth.

The average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet. Harding and Vescovo explored Challenger Deep — the lowest point on Earth located at the Mariana Trench, which is nearly 11km deep — or 10,925 metres to be precise — is equivalent to 13 times the height of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower!

Harding is a holder of three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration spent at Full Ocean Depth and also the longest distance traversed at Full Ocean Depth. He also led the One More Orbit mission, which achieved the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles in a Gulfstream G650ER — with a time of 46 hours and 40 minutes.

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Harding will be part of a six-member crew on the fifth human flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard programme. Image Credit: Supplied

Fight to space

Harding will be part of a six-member crew on the fifth human flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard programme. Other crew members include Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly into space, and Vescovo.

Blue Origin NS-21 will take off from West Texas, United States, on June 4. The 60-foot reusable, autonomous and suborbital rocket system was built for human flight and can carry six astronauts. After takeoff, the capsule and booster will separate at 250,000 feet (76km) and will continue to ascend to space to reach an apogee of 350,000 feet (106km) at a speed of more than 2,200 miles per hour (3,500km/hr). The astronauts will ascend past the Karman Line (100km), which is the internationally recognised boundary of space where full weightlessness is experienced. Once completed, this will be the 21st consecutive New Shepard launch, and the fifth human-crewed flight.

Postcard to space

Harding will carry a postcard to space on behalf of Blue Origin’s Foundation, Club for the Future. The foundation’s mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

He said: “Last year, when I completed my mission to traverse the deepest depths of the ocean, looking for new species and signs of human pollution, many people asked me what was next. As an explorer and an adventurer, for me, it was always about space. I am a long-term and proud resident of the UAE and this very much aligns with the country’s own ambitions and its commitment to exploration and science.”

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The jackets to be worn by the Blue Origin crew members. Image Credit: Supplied

“The vision of Blue Origin and the commitment of its Club for the Future to STEM education is something that resonates very strongly with me and my own focus as Middle East chair of The Explorers Club and founder of the One Orbit Foundation,” Harding added.

‘Access to space research’

He continued: “The Blue Origin NS-21 flight not only gives my fellow astronauts and me the incredible opportunity to experience the final frontier for ourselves, but gives scientists, students and businesses access to space research that will help transform our future. I am proud to represent both the UAE and the UK on this mission.”

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Harding is chair of the Middle East Chapter of The Explorers Club, an international organisation founded in New York in 1904 dedicated to the advancement of field exploration and scientific enquiry. He has also recently established the One More Orbit Foundation to inspire and sponsor future explorers.