Watch Live: Blue Origin’s tourist rocket takes William Shatner into space
William Shatner, the legendary Star Trek actor, will boldly venture where he’s never been before: actual space, early Wednesday morning. Shatner, well known for his role as James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise, is poised to journey to space and back with three other passengers aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, which will launch from West Texas.
Today’s trip is the second crewed flight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a reusable passenger rocket designed to transport paying customers to the edge of space for a few brief moments of weightlessness. Blue Origin’s first crewed flight in July featured Blue Origin’s creator, former Amazon CEO and current world’s second richest man, Jeff Bezos.
The crew that is heading up today is diverse. Two paying customers are flying alongside Shatner: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of small satellite business Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of software startup Medidata and vice chair of life sciences at Dassault Systèmes, a French software company. Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, and Shatner were named as the final passengers last week.
The foursome’s flight will last approximately 11 minutes. New Shepard is a suborbital rocket, which means it won’t be able to achieve the insane speeds required to lap the Earth indefinitely. The rocket will instead take off vertically from Blue Origin’s launch facility in Van Horn, Texas. In a few of minutes, the rocket will reach an altitude of more than 62 miles (100 kilometres), breaching the barrier into space. The capsule separates from the rocket while well above the Earth, and the occupants within have a few minutes to float around and gaze out the tall windows at the Earth below.
Shatner’s journey comes just a few weeks after the publication of his new spoken word album, Bill, which features a song with Brad Paisley called “So Far From The Moon,” which is inspired by Shatner’s experience on the night of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969. Shatner, who is 90 years old, will be the oldest person to have gone to space. He’ll beat out famous aviator Wally Funk, who flew with Bezos on the first crewed flight of New Shepard. Funk, 82, was part of a group of 13 women in the 1960s who went through the same testing that NASA used to choose its first astronauts but were ultimately refused the opportunity to train for space.