Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of Planet, will be one of four passengers on Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital vehicle’s second mission on October 12. Boshuizen, who is a partner at the investment company DCVC, is going to be the third Australian to go in space, the first to do so without getting American citizenship, and one of only a few dozen non-professional astronauts to leave Earth’s atmosphere.
Boshuizen told SpaceNews, “Space is opening up.” “This is the start of something extremely significant. It will take some time, and consumers should be patient, but the price will drop.” Glen de Vries, co-founder of life sciences firm Medidata Solutions and the life sciences and healthcare vice chairperson for Dassault Systèmes, which purchased Medidata in 2019, will also be aboard the October 12 New Shepard mission from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. The other passengers have yet to be identified by Blue Origin.
Since he was a child, Boshuizen has been searching for a way into space. Boshuizen pursued math and physics at University of Sydney after being rejected from the Australian Defence Force Academy’s pilot school due to his partial color blindness. He received his PhD from the university with a thesis on the building of the space telescope to analyze the oscillations of faraway stars.
Boshuizen joined the 2002 World Space Congress while still in school, when he met Robbie Schingler and Will Marshall, who would eventually become Planet co-founders. Boshuizen volunteered to lead the next Space Generation Congress, a yearly gathering of young professionals and university students interested in space, after his first World Space Congress.
A journalist asked Boshuizen what he wants to see in the future during his first World Space Congress. “To enable space travel as simple as taking a bus,” he replied. He’s still working toward that goal, despite the passage of time.
Boshuizen worked as the executive director in charge of the Space Generation Advisory Council after college before joining NASA’s Ames Research Center. He worked on a number of projects at NASA Ames, including the Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer, which is a low-cost robotic lunar exploration and technology demonstration project, and Phonesat, which is a 10-centimeter cube satellite with consumer-grade components.
Phonesat, which demonstrated that commercial off-the-shelf components could operate in low Earth orbit, prepared the way for Planet, a company that disrupted the space sector by using cubesats to capture daily global Earth pictures. Boshuizen was Planet’s chief technology officer for five years until leaving in 2015 to join DCVC, which is a San Francisco-centered venture capital and private equity firm, as an entrepreneur-in-residence. As a partner, Boshuizen assists in identifying and funding startups that share his vision of democratizing access to space.
Boshuizen is very well aware of the risks and benefits of space travel. Boshuizen traveled to Mojave Desert after the 2004 Space Generation Congress to watch Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.