A total of 55 years after his debut as Captain Kirk in the cult-classic TV series “Star Trek”, 90-year-old William Shatner is finally launching to the final frontier for real on Wednesday, October 13. He will be the oldest person to fly into space, courtesy of Jeff Bezos and his rocket company Blue Origin.
Shatner shall blast off on a 10-minute up-and-down flight out of the discernible atmosphere to the edge of space. Three other people will join him: entrepreneur and executive with French software company Dassault Systemes Glen de Vries, former NASA engineer and co-founder of satellite imaging company Planet Labs Chris Boshuizen, and Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers.
Delayed for a day due to high winds, liftoff from the Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site is scheduled for October 13, Wednesday at 9:30 am EDT.
When interviewed by Gayle King on CBS Mornings, Shatner joked he will be able to boast about the age record, but he said his real motivation was “to have the vision. I want to see space. I want to see the Earth. I want to see what we need to do to save Earth.”
He said, “I want to have a perspective that hasn’t been shown to me before. That’s what I’m interested in seeing.”
Shatner, who has also released more than 10 albums as a recording artist, says he plans to write a song about his outer space experience for his next album, “I want to write about my love of Earth.”
The mission, named NS18, entails that the New Shepard capsule will carry the crew to an altitude of above 62 miles, the internationally recognized boundary between the discernible atmosphere and space. Passengers will enjoy about three to four minutes of weightlessness and jaw-dropping views prior to a parachute descent back to Earth.
The flight will be the second crewed launch of a New Shepard capsule. The first manned flight that took off July 20 carried Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Blue Origin’s first customer, Dutch teen Oliver Daemen.
Shatner will surpass Funk’s age record by 8 years and John Glenn’s mark before that by 13.
Shatner told Anderson Cooper of CNN, “I’m looking forward to the whole thing. Imagine being weightless and staring into the blackness and seeing the Earth, that’s what I want to absorb. Things like that go up and boom in the night. It’s a little scary, I’ll tell you.”
As the spacecraft is fully automated, the medical requirements for Blue Origin’s passengers are quite relaxed.
The difficult challenges for 90-year-old Shatner would most likely be climbing up the seven flights of stairs required to reach the gangway to board the New Shepard capsule and then enduring more than five times the normal gravitational force during descent.
Since Funk had no problems, Blue Origin officials are confident Shatner will not have any issues.