Does having an astronaut father guarantee a trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere? Of course not. And Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of Alan Shephard, America’s first astronaut and only astronaut to hit a golf ball on the moon, does not think of herself as being an astronaut, despite her recent flight into space.
The eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut to fly into space, Churchley followed in her father’s footsteps — and trajectory — lifting off on Dec. 11, 2021 aboard the New Shepard, Blue Origin’s suborbital launch vehicle named after her dad. The 10-minute flight established Churchley as the 605th person (and 372nd American) to soar above Earth, but she did so without needing the months- or years-long preparation her father and his fellow astronauts had to undergo.
In this special program, Churchley will join in conversation with Major General (Retired) Roy D. Bridges, Jr., who piloted the Space Shuttle Challenger on the 8-day Space Lab 2 mission. He also recently released a memoir, “An Improbable Astronaut: How a Georgia Farmboy Wound Up Flying the Space Shuttle.” Together, the two will discuss her recent experience on Blue Origin, the future of civilians in space and why space exploration is as important–or more important–than ever.