Publication:

The Hamilton Spectator - 2021-10-14

Data:

Blue Origin enterprise sends ‘Star Trek’ star Shatner to space

CANADA & WORLD

KATE FELDMAN AND DAVID MATTHEWS

William Shatner finally took a real star trek. The 90-year-old actor, best known for his galactic role as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” blasted off Wednesday morning on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The flight, whose other passengers included Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, software executive Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice-president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers, launched outside Van Horn, Texas at 10:51 a.m. Both Boshuizen and de Vries paid for their flights, but the price tag has not been publicly revealed. “Tek War” author Shatner was an invited guest. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos was on hand at the launch pad Wednesday as the crew prepared for takeoff. The entire journey lasted only about 10 minutes, travelling about 100 kilometres above sea level at three times the speed of sound, or 3,700 km/h. The four passengers experienced about four minutes of weightlessness. The rocket, named after Alan Shepard, didn’t actually enter the orbit around Earth, but instead flew to the edge of space, known as the Kármán Line, a distinction that has caused questions about whether it counts as space travel. Shatner enters the record books as the oldest person to travel to space, beating the record set in July by 82-year-old Wally Funk aboard Blue Origin’s first crewed launch. “It’s unbelievable,” Shatner said upon returning to Earth. “I’m so filled with emotion about what happened.” “I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now,” the actor added. “I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me and life.” Wednesday’s flight is the next step for mankind — and for Bezos, who is aiming to compete with Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic in space tourism. Blue Origin conducted more than a dozen unmanned test flights of New Shepard before letting people, including Bezos and his brother Mark, on board for its first passenger-packed flight in July.

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