'Star Trek' star Shatner to blast into space for real
"Star Trek" actor William Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk, soared aboard a Blue Origin rocketship on a suborbital trip and landed in the Texas desert yesterday to become at age 90 the oldest person ever in space – an experience he called profound – as American billionaire tycoon Jeff Bezos's firm carried out its second tourist flight.
Shatner was one of four passengers to journey for roughly 10 minutes to the edge of space aboard the white fully autonomous18.3-meters tall New Shepard spacecraft, which took off from Blue Origin's launch site about 32 kilometers outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.
The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert under parachutes. Shatner emerged gingerly from the capsule in the silence, appearing reflective as the others celebrated by cheering and popping champagne bottles. Bezos was on hand and embraced Shatner.
"What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine," Shatner told Bezos. "I am so filled with emotion about what just happened."
Shatner also remarked on the beauty of the blue color of Earth from space.
The four astronauts experienced about 3-4 minutes of weightlessness and traveled above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 100km above Earth.
The four astronauts, all wearing blue flight suits with the company's name in white letters on one sleeve, climbed into the crew capsule atop the spacecraft before the launch and strapped in after ascending a set of stairs accompanied by Bezos. Each rang a bell before entering the capsule, with Bezos then closing the hatch.
Winds were light and skies were clear for the launch, which was conducted after two delays totaling roughly 45 minutes.
Joining Shatner – who embodied the promise of space travel in the classic 1960s TV series "Star Trek" and seven subsequent films – in the all-civilian crew were former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers.
It marked the second space flight for Blue Origin, a firm founded two decades ago.