Michael Strahan, former Giants and Super Bowl champion, orbited the Earth

Michael Strahan brought his Super Bowl ring and Giants jersey with him

Former football star and now television celebrity Michael Strahan flew into space on Saturday with Jeff Bezos’ rocket launch company, sharing the journey with the daughter of America’s first astronaut.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket took off from West Texas, sending the capsule out on a 10-minute flight with two VIP guests and four paying customers. His automated capsule rose to an altitude of 66 miles, providing a few minutes of weightlessness before parachuting into the desert. The thruster also successfully landed again.

It was five minutes and 50 miles shorter than Alan Shepard’s Mercury flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida on May 5, 1961. His eldest daughter, Laura Shepard Churchley, took away a small piece of his Freedom 7 capsule, as well as souvenirs from her mission to the Apollo 14 moon. She also packed some golf balls; his father struck a couple on the lunar surface.

Strahan, co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” took home his Super Bowl ring and New York Giants jersey number 92. Bezos kept a football on board and it will go into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

“It was unreal,” Strahan noted after exiting the pod.

He said he wants to go back, but Bezos joked that he would have to buy his own ticket next time.

Bezos, who has flown into space in the same capsule, accompanied the six passengers to the launch pad near Van Horn and greeted them afterward. He wrote “Light this candle” on the launch tower bridge, which was Alan Shepard’s famous complaint from inside Freedom 7 as delays mounted: “Why don’t you fix your little problem and light this candle? “

Shepard Churchley, who volunteered for Blue Origin’s third passenger flight, also paraphrased the late father, yelling “Let’s light this candle!” while waiting for take off. The fierce wind delayed the flight for two days.

Blue Origin dedicated Saturday’s launch to Glen de Vries, who launched into space with Shatner in October and died a month later in a plane crash.