William Shatner, the beloved Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, will indeed rocket into space as a passenger aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin capsule to the edge of infinity next week.
Shatner, who portrayed the courageous Starship Captain James Tiberias Kirk in the science fiction television series that started in 1966, is now 90 years old. But that poses no problems for him, as he expressed his great joy on Monday after the official announcement out of Cape Canaveral.
“Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” Shatner tweeted triumphantly today, adding “It’s never too late to experience new things.”
Jeff Bezos’ space travel company, announced today that the Canadian-born actor will blast off from Western Texas this Sunday, Oct. 12.
Bezos, an entrepreneur who is the founder of the behemoth Amazon firm, has long been a fan of the science fiction series, which spawned a run of feature films for decades after its initial run on television.
The businessman and space exploration booster even had a cameo role as an alien in the 2016 iteration of the series, titled “Star Trek Beyond.” Blue Origin invited Shatner to fly along as its guest, according to an Associated Press report.
When he shakes off the shackles of Earth on Sunday, Shatner will become the oldest human being to ever go to space. He will be accompanied by three others people, two of whom are paying customers, who are riding in the Blue Origin capsule to the edge of space, briefly becoming weightless.
William Shatner played iconic role of Captain Kirk in television, movies
Incredibly, the iconic actor will not be the very first actor in space, getting edged out by a Russian actress, who will be accompanied by a film producer, when they join the International Space Station on Tuesday for the making of a movie aboard the ISS.
The trajectory taken by the nonagenarian actor will be a shorter one, lasting only ten minutes, reaching an apex of approximately 66 miles (106 kilometers) into the sky, where the passengers will experience wieghtlessness before they begin their descent back to Earth.
Shatner and his fellow space explorers will then have a parachute landing back on the Texas desert, close to the launch pad.
The year 2021 has seen a number of firsts in space flight, with billionaires Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk also taking turns going into space aboard their own rockets.
“Space tourism” will be here to stay, if the events of this year are any indication.
The Virgin Galactic company’s rocket carried founder Sir Richard Branson to the edge of space with five other passengers in July, coming down also by way of giant parachutes after being launched via airplane.
Just nine days later, Bezos also slipped the bounds of Earth in his own space trip via Blue Origin.
Energy and electric vehicle entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX company also successfully shot five passengers into space last month, including a Pennsylvania entrepreneur who bought tickets for the three-day flight. Two contest winners and a cancer survivor rounded out that crew, who splashed down in an Apollo-like manner in the ocean when they returned to Earth.
While Blue Origin and SpaceX’s capsules are fully automated and do not require pilots, all passengers must pass rigorous medical screenings. These include among a laundry list of other items, being able to climb several flights of steps at the launch tower quickly in order to access their capsule.
They must also show that they can exit the vehicle just as quickly in case of an emergency.
Sunday will mark the second time that Bezos’ Blue Origin has sent a crew to space.
Bezos, along with his brother, was one of the crew on the very first flight, which took place on July 20, 2021.
An 18-year-old from the Netherlands who was the recipient of a ticket from a man who had to bow out at the last moment, along with 82-year-old female aviation pioneer Wally Funk made up the rest of the crew.
After Funk, who was discounted for the original Apollo space program due to her gender, will now not be the oldest person to touch space after Shatner launches on Sunday.
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner said in a statement after the announcement.
After playing the commander of the USS Starship Enterprise from 1966 to 1969, William Shatner went on to portray him in seven movies, even directing one of the films in the storied franchise. Shatner currently works as the host and executive producer of a show called “The UnXplained” on the History Channel.
The other seats on the Shatner flight will be occupied by the winners of an auction that took place prior to the first flight. That seat, according to the Associated Press, cost a cool $28 million.
A former NASA engineer who is also the founder of a nanosatellite company and the co-founder of a software company specializing in clinical research, along with Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations will round out the crew beside Shatner.
Blue Origin was the target of over 20 current and former employees who accused the company of not only having a “toxic work environment” but of not following proper safety protocols as well.
Company spokesmen said that the Kent-Washington based firm does not tolerate harassment or discrimination and tat is stood by its safety record.
Blue Origin is also mounting a challenge to NASA after it awarded a contract to Musk’s SpaceX for the development of a lunar lander that will return astronauts to the Moon. That project is expected to become a reality in several years’ time.
Bezos’ bid for the contract was turned down by NASA.