Like father, like daughter for this upcoming Blue Origin flight.
In 1961, Alan Shepard made history. They took off on May 5 in the Freedom 7 spacecraft. In the process, he became the first American in space.
After that famous mission, Shepard was grounded with a nasty ear problem. Eventually, he would get back into space in 1971 alongside Ed Mitchell for the Apollo 14 journey. They would spend more than 33 hours on the moon. He became the fifth person to ever walk on the moon during that time.
Perhaps even more interesting, Shepard was the very first person ever to play golf on the surface of the moon. All the craters surely made for quite an interesting course. He came prepared, as well. Alan Shepard packed his very own specially designed golf club.
Laura Shepard Churchley Follows in Father’s Footsteps
Sadly, after all his miraculous discoveries and milestones, he passed away in 1998. He had a long and gruesome battle with leukemia. He is survived by his three daughters as well as several grandchildren. One of his daughters is Laura Shepard Chuchley.
She will be following in her father’s tremendous space steps when she embarks on the Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft this Thursday. Alongside five other crew members, she will spend an eye-opening 11 minutes up in space. The spacecraft is also named New Shepard after Alan Shepard.
She is one of two honorary guests on the Blue Origin flight. The other is former New York Giants football player and “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan.
Preparing for Blue Origin Flight
As for Churchley, this is a massive day for her. Although her father is sadly not around to watch her launch into space, Churchley witnessed her father’s achievements. She was in eighth grade when he embarked on the Mercury 7 flight in 1961.
“I’m excited to kind of be following in my father’s footsteps for starters and I’m excited just to go up higher into space to see what it all looks like. I’ve been looking at the stars with my father forever and now I’m just going to get — we’re all going to get really close and it’s just going to be thrilling,” Churchley said on “Good Morning America” regarding the Blue Origin flight.
While he can’t physically be with her on the rocket, Churchley is bringing mementos to make it feel like he’s there. Each of the passengers has a small pouch to pack with mementos. She has a silver dollar that Alan Shepard took to the moon for her grandmother, according to Collect Space. She also has his Naval Academy ring that he had on during that mission.
“I have some enamel Apollo 14 pendants and I have my opal pendant that Daddy took to the moon for me in 1971, so I am going to send that up again,” Churchley said. She has also packed a heat shield, a South African Krugerrand, and a washer from the Freedom 7 spacecraft.
She also has a tennis ball and some golf balls for her grandson, husband, and friends, bringing it all full circle.
Although, she won’t be able to land anywhere and play golf like her father during the Blue Origin flight.