Montecito Businessman Marty Allen is Down to Earth!
After soaring into the heavens last week aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket from a spaceport in Van Horn, Texas, the former CEO of California Closets and Party America reached an altitude of 350,000 feet, or about 66 miles, above our planet, flying above the Kármán line, which is defined as the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Marty was part of a crew of six, which was to have included Saturday Night Live regular Pete Davidson, 28, beau of reality TV star Kim Kardashian, but he had to back out with a scheduling conflict when takeoff was delayed a week. Even on launch day it was not all smooth sailing.
“Our flight had a 47-minute hold which came during our countdown,” says Marty. “There was a communication issue with the booster rocket and it had to be fixed before launch. The engineers were able to resolve the issue with about five minutes to spare before the mission would have been scrubbed. In simple terms, once fuel is in the rocket it begins to cool and basically would freeze the electronics around the engine given enough time. During that time we just sat in the capsule strapped into our seats and waited and waited and waited. And then the issue was resolved, countdown continued, and we blasted off.”
After the launch, the reusable zero greenhouse gas emissions rocket landed vertically at a pad, while the craft continued soaring upwards creating a few minutes of weightlessness while taking in the majesty of Earth before the capsule re-entered the atmosphere, deploying its chutes and floating back to the surface in a gentle desert landing.
“I am still processing the experience,” Marty told me in an exclusive when he arrived back in our rarefied enclave on the weekend. “My early reaction is several fold. Before going into space, I was excited about the idea of weightlessness, but once up there, the weightlessness became secondary to the view out of the widows, which was just mesmerizing.
“We were in space and it was black, and I mean black. Then we could look back and see Earth and the curvature of the planet. One thing for sure, the world is not flat! That was a sight I’ll never forget. The ride up to space in the rocket was nothing short of amazing.
“We reached a speed of 2,300 miles per hour and once the booster rocket separated, which you could feel, then the capsule continued into space and we had a very real feel of floating. Then the descent was amazing. We just fell out of the sky and came hurtling back to Earth reaching five Gs. I could lift my arm off of the hand rest and then it just got slammed back down!”
Before the launch Marty and his fellow crew members had to undergo training for four days. “Much of it was centered around a lot of protocol that surrounded the entire event, with most of it being inside the capsule. The most critical procedure was learning how to get back into your seat in weightlessness, although all that training was done in gravity. We repeated all the procedures many, many times until it became a muscle memory. And there was training on many of the what ifs.
“The capsule itself also had a very powerful rocket built into it, so that in an emergency the capsule could be launched off the booster rocket. The safety feature was active from the time we were strapped into our seats until we separated from the booster rocket. Every step of the process was always built around our safety.”
Marty, who says he loved aviation as a youngster and built his own rockets in his early teens, started piloting planes solo at 16, attaining his license on his birthday. “But my dad had to drive me to the airport as I didn’t have a driver’s license!” he laughed.
“So when I was selected to have the opportunity to go into space and be one of only 600 people to ever do so, it took me less than one second to make that decision.”
Even now, just a few days after his space adventure, Marty is raring to go back. “I would certainly do it again and again. I now want to circumvent the entire planet. It is no different than when we took our first airplane ride!”
As to the cost of the trip, Marty doesn’t care to discuss the price of a ticket, other than to say costs are reducing with each flight and the time. “It will all become accessible to many more people, particularly with the reusable equipment, including the booster rocket and capsule.”
But, after Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin flight, he has signed up to take a trip on British tycoon Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic first space expedition, which is currently going for $450,000 a ticket. Local singer Katy Perry and actor Brad Pitt have also signed up for the opportunity.
“I would not only recommend it, it is our future,” adds Marty. “Blue Origin has spent 18 years to figure out how to get to this point. It is about safety and building out the infrastructure to space. We will be working and living on the Moon one day. Zero gravity has many benefits!”
Bezos was on the first crewed flight of New Shepard in July, 2021, and Star Trek actor William Shatner later went on another flight, making him the oldest man in space at 90. Tesla tycoon Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also on the lunar landscape. It’s all systems go…