CBS NEWS – Sophie Reardon
Glen de Vries, a businessman who flew to space last month with Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin, died in a small plane crash on Thursday. He was 49, according to New Jersey State Police.
The plane crashed in Sussex County, New Jersey, just before 3 p.m. De Vries and 54-year-old Thomas P. Fischer were killed. The FAA is investigating the crash, state police said.
“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates,” Blue Origin tweeted. “His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”
We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. 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. pic.twitter.com/1hwnjntTVs— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 12, 2021
De Vries, a private pilot in his spare time, was trained as a molecular biologist and co-founded Medidata Solutions, the most-used clinical research platform in the world. The company’s software has managed more than 25,000 clinical trials involving more than seven million patients. Dassault Systèmes acquired the company in 2019 for $5.8 billion.
“Our thoughts and support go out to Glen’s family,” a Dassault Systèmes spokesperson said in a statement on Friday. “Our deepest sympathy also goes out to our MEDIDATA team, which Glen co-founded. His tireless energy, empathy and pioneering spirit left their mark on everyone who knew him. We will truly miss Glen, but his dreams — which we share — live on: we will pursue progress in life sciences & healthcare as passionately as he did.”
Last month, de Vries spent over 10 minutes in space after launching along with actor William Shatner, Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers. Before blastoff, he and his crewmates did an interview with “CBS Mornings.”
“I am actually looking forward to seeing the Earth from a different perspective than I ever had before,” he said in the interview. “I just can’t wait to stare out that window and feel differently about humanity and our planet than I’ve ever had the opportunity to before.”
After the flight, de Vries, a Carnegie Mellon graduate, told CBS Pittsburgh station KDKA that it was an experience unlike any other. He said he hoped to get others interested in the space industry so they can experience it too.
“I thought that would be important to me before we went up, and having done it makes me feel twice as much conviction. Maybe a thousand times more conviction. That is something we need to make accessible, in an equitable way, to as many people on the planet as possible,” he told the station.
He said that includes making space travel cheaper so more people have the opportunity. It is not clear how much de Vries paid for his seat on the Blue Origin flight.
Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, posted a tribute to de Vries on her Instagram.
“Such a painful loss today,” she wrote in the caption. “We got to know Glen de Vries, an incredible man, and his partner Leah last month. Leah’s love for Glen was visible every time we saw them together. When he took off for space she gripped my hand so tight it hurt. Thinking of that moment today with a broken heart. Our deepest sympathies go out to Leah and Glen’s family, we are so saddened by the tragic news.”
William Harwood contributed reporting