Planet co-founders, including Chris Boshuizen standing on the left, started out building cubesats in a Cupertino, California, garage in 2011. Credit: Planet

SAN FRANCISCO – Planet co-founder Chris Boshuizen will be one of four passengers on the next flight of the Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital vehicle on Oct. 12.

Boshuizen, a partner at investment firm DCVC, will be the third Australian to experience spaceflight, the first to do so without obtaining U.S. citizenship, and among the first couple dozen people who are not professional astronauts to leave Earth’s atmosphere.

“Space is opening up,” Boshuizen told SpaceNews. “This is the beginning of something very important. It will take time and people should be patient, but it will come down in price.”

Also on the Oct. 12 New Shepard flight from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas will be Glen de Vries, co-founder of life sciences company Medidata Solutions, and life sciences and healthcare vice chair for Dassault Systèmes, which acquired Medidata in 2019. Blue Origin has not yet named the other passengers.

Boshuizen has looked for a path to space since he was a child. After he was rejected from Australian Defence Force Academy’s pilot school for being partially color blind, Boshuizen studied math and physics at the University of Sydney. There, he earned a PhD with a thesis focused on development of a space telescope to measure the oscillations of distant stars.

While still in school, Boshuizen attended the 2002 World Space Congress, where he met Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler, who would later become his Planet co-founders. After his first World Space Congress, Boshuizen volunteered to chair the next Space Generation Congress, an annual gathering of university students and young professionals focused on space.

At his first World Space Congress, a reporter asked Boshuizen what he wanted to see in the future. His response, “To make space travel as easy as catching a bus.” Nineteen years later, he remains focused on that goal.

After college, Boshuizen became the executive director of the Space Generation Advisory Council before getting a job at the NASA Ames Research Center. At NASA Ames, he worked on various programs including Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer, a low-cost robotic lunar exploration and technology demonstration mission, and Phonesat, a 10-centimeter cube satellite packed with consumer-grade components.

Phonesat, which proved commercial off-the-shelf components could function in low Earth Orbit, paved the way for Planet, a firm that helped disrupt the space industry by capturing daily global Earth imagery with cubesats. Boshuizen served as Planet chief technology officer for five years, leaving in 2015 to become the entrepreneur-in-residence at DCVC, a San Francisco-based venture capital and private equity firm. Now a partner, Boshuizen helps identify and fund startups that share his goal of democratizing space access.

Boshuizen is well aware of the potential risks and rewards of spaceflight. After a 2004 Space Generation Congress, Boshuizen traveled to the Mojave Desert to watch Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne capture the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.

He’s also watched Planet lose 39 satellites in three rocket failures.

“This is not tourism, it’s scary as hell,” Boshuizen said. “I’ve had a little time to contemplate my mortality and assess the risk. I’ve done all the due diligence I can. I am confident Blue Origin is the safest option particularly with the escape mode.”

Outside his space-related work, Boshuizen is a music producer and songwriter who performs as Dr. Chrispy.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...