Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday at the convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company.
The Star Trek actor and three fellow passengers cruised to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) over the West Texas desert in a fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth in a flight that lasted more than 10 minutes. Went.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an enthusiastic Shatner told Bezos after emerging from the capsule, the words left by him in a solitude almost as long as flight. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
He said it was a moving experience to go from a blue sky to the utter darkness of space: “In a moment you go, wow, this is death. That’s what I saw.”
Sci-fi fans rejoiced at the chance to see the man known as Captain James T. Kirk, the veteran of the Starship Enterprise, where no American TV star had gone before.
“Seeing Captain James Tiberius Kirk going into space is a pinch moment for all of us,” Blue Origin launch commentator Jackie Cortes said before liftoff. She said that she, like many others, was attracted to the space business from shows like Star Trek.
Jeff Bezos is a huge Star Trek fan—the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later Star Trek movies—and William Shatner frees up as his invited guest.
Given its inherent appeal to baby boomers, celebrity watchers and space enthusiasts, Blastoff brought invaluable star power to Bezos’s spacecraft company. Shatner starred in the TV original Star Trek from 1966 to 1969, When America Was Running to the Moon, and appeared in a series of Star Trek films.
Bezos himself escorted the four crew members to the pad, accompanied them to the above-ground platform and closed the hatch after boarding the 60-foot rocket. An enthusiastic Bezos was there to greet him as his capsule floated back down to Earth under his brilliant blue and red parachute.
“Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth!” Bezos said he opened the hatch of the New Shepard capsule, named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
William Shatner stated that he was struck by the vulnerability of the Earth and the relative swirl of its atmosphere.
“Everyone in the world needs to see that. Everyone in the world needs to be seen,” he said. “To see the blue and now you are staring into the blackness, that’s the point. The blue cover, this sheath, this blanket, this blue comforter that we have, we say, ‘Oh, that blue sky.’ And then all of a sudden you kill everything, and you’re looking at the blackness, the black ugliness.”
He said that the return to Earth was more of a shock than his training had expected and made him wonder if he was going to make it home to the living.
“Everything is much more powerful,” he said. “Bang, this thing hits. It was nothing like the simulator. … Am I going to be able to escape G-Force? Will I be able to survive it?”
Blue Origin said William Shatner and the rest of the crew met all medical and physical requirements, including the ability to climb up and down multiple flights of stairs at the launch tower. As the capsule returns to Earth, the passengers are subjected to approximately 6 G, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity.
“Shooting in space is the worst thing I think I’ve ever seen,” said bartender Joseph Barra, who helped wrap up Blue Origin’s launch week festivities. “William Shatner is setting the bar for what a 90-year-old can do.”
The flight comes as the space tourism industry finally takes off, with passengers aboard ships built and operated by some of the world’s richest men.
Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic led the way in July aboard his own rocket ship into space, followed by Jeff Bezos with a crew on Blue Origin’s maiden flight nine days later. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its first private trip in mid-September, although without Musk.
last week, The Russians Launched an Actor and a Film Director to the International Space Station For a film production project.
Blue Origin said it plans one more passenger flight this year and several more in 2022. Sounding like the humanitarian and idealistic Captain Kirk, the company said it aimed to “democratize space”.
William Shatner worked with Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president and former space station flight controller for NASA, and two paying clients: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer who co-founded a satellite company, and a 3D Software’s Glen de Vries Company. Blue Origin would not disclose the price of their tickets.