Actor William Shatner, who played the lead role in the Star Trek series for decades, shot into space in real life on Wednesday. He went on a tourist flight to the edge of the atmosphere. 90-year-old Shatner is now the oldest person to ever be in space.
The New Shepard rocket was launched at 4.50 pm Dutch time from a base in western Texas. At its peak, about 107 kilometers above the Earth and just outside the atmosphere, Shatner and the others could feel what it‘s like to be weightless for a few minutes.
Shatner is one of four passengers of Blue Origin, the aerospace company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people on Earth. Shatner played Star Trek from 1966 to 1994. He performed the role of Captain James T. Kirk, commander of spaceship USS Enterprise.
Blue Origin reported via Twitter that the capsule and booster were successfully separated from each other at high altitude. Six minutes later, the booster returned safely to Earth. The astronauts capsule landed on three parachutes ten minutes after launch. Blue Origin said it was a safe return. A few minutes later Shatner and the other crew stepped out of the capsule on their own. Bezos then uncorked the champagne.
Blue and black
“This was a journey to remember,” said a touched ‘Captain Kirk‘. “The blue beneath you and the black above you… Is there death? Is that where death is? It’s unimaginable. I hope I can hold on to this feeling for a while. I carry this with me forever,” said the elderly space traveller about his observations from behind the window.
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The occupants are weightless for a few minutes and see the curvature of the Earth and the infinity of the Universe. The flight was actually supposed to take place on Tuesday but had been postponed for a day due to weather conditions
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Three others traveled with Shatner. One of them is Blue Origin employee Audrey Powers. She previously worked as a flight leader at the US space agency NASA. Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen also went along. He also worked for NASA before and then started the Planet Labs company, a company that monitors the Earth with satellites. The fourth space tourist is the American Glen de Vries, chief executive of medical researcher Medidata.
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It‘s the second time Blue Origin has been running such a spaceflight. In July, Bezos went on board himself. His travel companions were his brother (making them the first brothers ever together in space), 82-year-old Wally Funk (currently still the oldest human ever in space) and 18-year-old Dutchman Oliver Daemen (the youngest person ever in space and the fourth born Dutchman).
Shatner’s space journey will take about 8 minutes.