William Shatner says he’s “a little frightened” about Wednesday’s rocket ride that will see the 90-year-old Star Trek legend become the oldest person to travel to the edge of space.
His Captain Kirk character may have boldly gone places, but Shatner’s admission in a recent interview reveals a few nerves when it comes to this particular mission.
“I’m thrilled and anxious and a little nervous and a little frightened about this whole new adventure,” Shatner said prior to blasting off on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
“But I’ve got to think that once it’s done, once I’ve been into space and seen the universe and seen our Earth and the contrast between that hostility and this warmth, and how important it is to keep the Earth alive so that we don’t wreck it, we human beings don’t wreck it, that contrast in all of that is so dramatic to me.”
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 12, 2021
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin in 2000, and engineers have been testing its sub-orbital New Shepard rocket since 2015. In July, the billionaire businessman took part in Blue Origin’s first crewed trip to the edge of space in a successful test flight that opens the door to a commercial space tourism service.
A devoted Star Trek fan, and no doubt aware of the huge publicity it would generate, Bezos recently invited Shatner to fly on the second crewed trip, along with three crewmates. The Canadian entertainer jumped at the chance.
Wednesday’s flight will see New Shepard carry the crew capsule to just above the Kármán line, the spot about 62 miles above Earth that’s widely considered as the edge of space. Shatner and his crewmates will then have several minutes to enjoy the views and float around the capsule in weightless conditions before returning to Earth.
He may be nervous, but Shatner certainly hasn’t lost his sense of humor in the run-up to launch day. In a recent interview on NBC’s Today show, the actor asked what space travelers do when they need to use the bathroom. When the interviewer said he should be just fine as the experience from launch to landing only lasts 11 minutes, Shatner quipped: “Yeah I know, but when you’re 90, 11 minutes can be a long time.” Blue Origin’s capsule doesn’t have a bathroom, so hopefully, he’ll be OK.
The entirety of the flight will be livestreamed by Blue Origin. Digital Trends has all the details you need to watch it online.
Wednesday’s launch comes a couple of weeks after more than 20 current and former Blue Origin employees described the company’s workplace as “rife with sexism.” A Blue Origin spokesperson said the company has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind and promised to investigate any claims of misconduct. The letter also raised safety concerns, accusing Blue Origin of rushing its flight schedules, though Shatner and his crewmates will be reassured that in all 17 missions to date, the capsule has always landed safely at the end of each flight.
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