Hollywood Captain Kirk, William Shatner, 90, exploded into space on Wednesday in a convergence of sci-fi and science reality, reaching the last frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff’s Blue Origin company Bezos.
The Star Trek hero became the oldest person to fly a rocket, eclipsing the previous record – set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July – of eight years.
Dressed in a royal blue flight suit, Shatner joined three other passengers, four to five decades younger, aboard the fully automated capsule that took off from West Texas for an up and down flight scheduled for only last about 10 minutes.
The spacecraft was aiming for an altitude of 106 kilometers (66 miles), at the edge of space, after which the capsule was to be parachuted towards the desert floor.
Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the loyal Captain James T Kirk of the Enterprise spaceship boldly go where no American TV star has gone before.
Shatner said ahead of the countdown that he plans to spend his roughly three minutes of weightlessness staring at Earth with his nose leaning against the capsule windows.
“The only thing I don’t want to see is a little gremlin looking at me,” he joked, referring to the plot of his 1963 episode of Twilight Zone titled, Nightmare at 20,000ft. .
Bezos is a huge fan of Star Trek – the founder of Amazon made an appearance as an alien in one of the last Star Trek films – and Shatner rode for free as a guest.
The takeoff brought invaluable star power to Bezos’ spaceship company, given its appeal to baby boomers, celebrity watchers, and space enthusiasts. Shatner starred in the original Star Trek television from 1966 to 1969, when the United States was running for the moon, and then appeared in a series of Star Trek films.
Bezos himself led the four to the pad, accompanied them to the above-ground platform, and closed the hatch after they boarded the 60-foot rocket. The capsule, New Shepard, was named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.
“It’s a pinching moment for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go into space,” said Jacki Cortese, Blue Origin launch commentator, before take off. She said that she, like so many others, was drawn to the space sector by shows like Star Trek.
The flight took place as the space tourism industry was finally taking off, with passengers aboard ships built and operated by some of the richest men in the world.
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson led the way by traveling to space in his own rocket in July, followed by Bezos nine days later on Blue Origin’s first flight with a crew. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its first private trip in mid-September, but without Musk on board.
Last week, the Russians sent an actor and a director to the International Space Station for a filmmaking project.
“We are only at the beginning, but how miraculous this start is. How amazing to be a part of this debut, ”Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted the day before his flight.
Shatner joined Audrey Powers, vice president of Blue Origin and former space station flight controller for NASA, and two paying clients: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer who co-founded a satellite company, and Glen de Vries from a 3D software company. . Blue Origin would not disclose the cost of its tickets.
Shatner treated his next flight for a laugh last week at New York Comic Con. The actor has said that Blue Origin has informed him that he will be the oldest guy in space.
“I don’t want to be known as the oldest guy in space. I’m the fucking Captain Kirk! He apologized. Then he stammered in a falsely panicked voice, “Captain Kirk, go where no one is going – what am I going?” Where am I going?”
He confessed: “I am Captain Kirk and I am terrified.”
Joking aside, Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew met all medical and physical requirements, including the ability to climb and descend several flights of stairs to the launch tower. Passengers are subjected to nearly six Gs, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, when the capsule returns to Earth.
Shatner shooting in space is “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Joseph Barra, a bartender who came from Los Angeles to help organize the Blue Origin launch week festivities. “William Shatner sets the bar high for what a 90 year old man can do.”