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Blue Origin: New Shepard Architect Gary Lai Joins NS-20 Crew



Blue Origin NS-20 Crew
Photo provided by Blue Origin

Blue Origin has announced New Shepard Architect Gary Lai will join the NS-20 Flight Crew as the sixth member, replacing Pete Davidson.

Gary Lai first joined Blue Origin in 2004 and is notably among their first 20 employees. Lai will join the previously announced Blue Origin NS-20 flight crew, including Marty Allen, Sharon Hagle and Marc Hagle, Jim Kitchen, and Dr. George Nield.

Lai is best known as the architect of the New Shepard system and for leading the team responsible for the design & development of the key safety systems on the Crew Capsule.

Gary Lai - Blue Origin

Photo Credit: Michael Baltierra / Blue Origin

He is currently Senior Director and Chief Architect of New Shepard at Blue Origin. Lai is responsible for all next generation designs, upgrades, and new product development for the New Shepard business.

His prior positions include Senior Director of Design Engineering, System Architect, Crew Capsule Element Lead, NASA Commercial Crew Development Program Manager, Lead Systems Engineer, and Pathfinding Lead with responsibility for advanced research and development.

According to Blue Origin:

Gary Lai Blue Origin

Photo Credit: Felix Kunze / Blue Origin

“Gary Lai has been involved in product development, strategic planning, and business development for all Blue Origin product lines, including the New Glenn orbital launch vehicle, rocket engine programs, and Blue Moon.


During the time Gary led the New Shepard technical team as System Architect in 2016, the program won the prestigious Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association “for successfully demonstrating rocket booster reusability with the New Shepard human spaceflight vehicle through five successful test flights of a single booster and engine, all of which performed powered vertical landings on Earth.”


Gary was the 2019 recipient of the Blue Origin Founder’s Award for his technical ambition and achievement. Gary graduated from Cornell University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics and Business Management.


He was a student of Carl Sagan at Cornell. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington.


Gary holds several New Shepard patents and serves on the Visiting Committee of the University of Washington College of Engineering, William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He holds three patents in space system technology.”

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