Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, the 90-year-old William Shatner, took to space Wednesday in a collision of science fiction with science reality. He reached the final frontier aboard a Blue Origin ship built by Jeff Bezos.
In the fully-automated capsule, the Star Trek hero flew to approximately 66 miles (106 km) above the West Texas desert. Then, he and three other passengers safely parachuted to the desert floor in an over 10 minute flight.
Shatner was eight years older than the previous record, which was set in July by a passenger aboard a Bezos spaceship.
Shatner stated, “That was unlike any they described,” as the capsule descended towards Earth.
Sci-fi fans rejoiced at the chance to see the man most well-known as the legendary Capt. James T. Kirk, the captain of Starship Enterprise, boldly went where no American TV star has gone before.
Shatner stated that he would spend the three minutes of his weightlessness looking down at Earth, with his nose pressing against the capsule’s windows.
He joked that “the only thing I don’t want to see” was a “little gremlin staring back at me”, referring to his 1963 episode of “Twilight Zone” titled “Nightmare at 21,000 Feet”.
Bezos is an avid “Star Trek” fan. The Amazon founder made a cameo appearance as an alien in one the later “Star Trek movies. Shatner was invited to ride free.
Bezos’ spaceship business received star power from the blastoff, which was a result of its appeal to space fans, celebrities, and baby boomers. From 1966 to 1969, Shatner was a star in TV’s original Star Trek. He then went on to appear in several “Star Trek” movies.
Bezos drove the four men to the pad and then accompanied them up to the platform. After they had climbed on the rocket, he closed the hatch. New Shepard was named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space.
“This is a pinch me moment for us all to see Capt. Blue Origin launch commentator JackiCortese stated that James Tiberius Kirk was going to space before liftoff. She stated that she was attracted to space by “Star Trek” shows, just like many others.
Space tourism is finally taking off. Passenger will enjoy a joyride aboard spacecraft built and operated in part by the wealthiest men in the world.
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson was the first to go into space, riding in his rocket ship in July. Bezos followed nine days later in Blue Origin’s first flight together with a crew. SpaceX’s Elon Musk made its first private flight in September, but without Musk.
The Russians sent last week an actor and a director of film to the International Space Station in support of a movie-making endeavor.
We’re only at the beginning, but it is amazing how incredible that beginning is. It is amazing to be part in that beginning,” Shatner stated in a Blue Origin video posted the day before his flight.
Audrey Powers, Blue Origin vice president, was Shatner’s passenger. Powers is also a former space station flight controller. Powers had two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen (a former NASA engineer who cofounded a satellite company) and Glen de Vries (a 3D software company). Blue Origin wouldn’t disclose the cost of their tickets.
Shatner made a lot of laughs out of his upcoming flight last week at New York Comic Con. According to the actor, Blue Origin told him that he would be space’s oldest man.
“I don’t want to be the oldest man in space.” He exclaimed, “I’m bloody Captain Kirk!” He mumbled in a fake-panicky voice, “Captain Kirk! I’m going where no one is going… “Where am I going?”
He admitted that he was Captain Kirk and that he was terrified.
Blue Origin claims that Shatner and his crew were able to climb and descend several flights of stairs at the launch tower, despite the jokes. As the capsule returns to Earth, passengers are exposed to almost 6 G’s or six times Earth’s gravity.
Shatner’s shot into space is “the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” Joseph Barra, a bartender who flew in from Los Angeles to cater Blue Origin’s launch celebrations. “William Shatner sets the standard for what a 90 year-old man can accomplish.”