Star Trek legend William Shatner boldly went to space on Wednesday, becoming the oldest man to perform such a feat.
The 10-minute ride began at the Texas launch site of spaceflight company Blue Origin on Wednesday, with 90-year-old Shatner and three crewmates blasting skyward aboard a New Shepard rocket.
Minutes later, the capsule crossed the Kármán line 62 miles above Earth — the spot widely regarded as the edge of space — giving the passengers several minutes of weightlessness not to mention stunning views of Earth — before returning safely to Earth.
Later on Wednesday, Blue Origin posted the first footage (below) showing Shatner and his fellow passengers at apogee, 351,185 feet (66.5 miles) above the surface of Earth. As he stared out of one of the capsule’s windows at the planet below, Shatner marveled at the extraordinary sight, saying: “Goodness me, I can’t believe this.”
As he exited the capsule at the end of the sub-orbital flight, Shatner was met by Amazon founder and Blue Origin boss — and massive Star Trek fan — Jeff Bezos, who himself took the first crewed flight aboard New Shepard in July.
“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened,” Shatner said after emerging from the capsule.
“To see the blue color whip by, and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing … this experience is something unbelievable … everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see this.”
The Canadian nonagenarian continued: “It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. It’s so much larger than me and life. It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.”
Before the historic flight, Shatner admitted he was “a little frightened” at the prospect of riding a rocket to space, though also added that he was “thrilled” at the idea.
The actor took the opportunity after Bezos offered him the chance following his own sub-orbital flight aboard the same rocket in July.
Traveling alongside Shatner was Audrey Powers, vice president of New Shepard Operations, who Blue Origin said played an integral part in building New Shepard, Chris Boshuizen (co-founder of satellite imagery company Planet Labs), and Glen de Vries (co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions), with the two men paying for their seats aboard the capsule.
Blue Origin is now planning to launch a space tourism service with regular launches for high-paying customers.
While some have accused the likes of Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson of wasting money on the so-called “billionaires’ space race,” the Amazon chief insists that if such projects lead to reusable infrastructure that cuts the cost of space travel, then more people will have the opportunity to use to space to create “amazing things that make life better here on Earth.”
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