December has been an active month. We started out with 40 people in space and Dean in the lead since November 10 with his guess of 40. That changed to 43 when Soyuz launched on December 8, putting Keith in the lead with his guess of 42. Then after a 2 day delay due to high winds in West Texas, Blue Origin launched 6 people in their New Shepard capsule today, December 11, bringing the year's count to 49. Carol, with her guess of 50, is now in the "driver's seat" for the 2021 MASS Prize. Twenty days to go in the year and no more launches anticipated. Carol says that if she wins, there will be a Dilly-Bar for every MASS meeting attendee. Availability will be determined by the opening of the Villa Park DQ store in the Spring.
It was fun tracking the people in space this year. The two new sub-orbital launch companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, made the count go up considerably. Blue Origin put more people in space than anyone else with their total of 14 on 3 launches. Virgin Galactic contributed 8 on their 2 launches. That makes 22 of the 49 people in space this year sub-orbital rides. Orbital people rode on the SpaceX Dragon (12), Russia's Soyuz (9) and China's Shenzhou (6).
Now we have to get some people flying on Boeing's Starliner capsule and NASA's Orion capsule for the United States and some Indian astronauts on the Gaganyaan capsule. All three of those first manned flights probably won't occur until 2023.
According to the SuperCluster.com website, there has been 612 people who have flown in space. During the brief 10 minute Blue Origin mission on December 11, we set a record of 19 people simultaneously in space. The ISS had 10, the Chinese Tiangong had 3 and the New Shepard capsule had 6.
Thanks to all that participated in the MASS Prize. We'll have to put our heads together to figure what the next Prize will be. Feel free to contact me with your ideas.