US space tourist dies in plane crash

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Glen de Vries (R) with fellow Blue Origin crew members at the New Shepard rocket landing pad in Texas on October 13, 2021 (AFP/Patrick T. FALLON)
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US businessman Glen de Vries, who flew into space with "Star Trek" actor William Shatner on last month's Blue Origin flight, has died in a plane crash, police said Friday.

The small aircraft came down in Hampton Township, New Jersey, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of New York City, shortly before 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) on Thursday, a spokesman for New Jersey state police told AFP.

"There are two confirmed fatalities," the spokesman said, naming de Vries, 49, and 54-year-old Thomas Fischer.

"The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will be the lead investigating agency," he added, without providing more details.

De Vries, the founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions, joined Shatner on Blue Origin's second crewed mission on October 13.

Also on board for the 11-minute journey that took them beyond Earth's atmosphere and back again were Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers and Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen.

"We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries," Blue Origin said in a tweet.

"He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired."

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