APTOPIX Shatner Space Launch
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket launches carrying passengers William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries from its spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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William Shatner, 3 others blast into space

28 Comments
By MARCIA DUNN and RICK TABER

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers hurtled to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) over the west Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience," an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos after climbing out the hatch, the words spilling from him in a soliloquy almost as long as the flight. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”

He said that going from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: "In an instant you go, 'Whoa, that’s death.' That’s what I saw.”

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This undated photo made available by Blue Origin shows, from left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Photo: Blue Origin via AP

Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the brave and principled commander of the starship Enterprise boldly go where no star of American TV has gone before. The internet went wild, with Trekkies quoting favorite lines from Kirk, including, “Risk: Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about.”

“This is a pinch-me moment for all of us to see Capt James Tiberius Kirk go to space,” Blue Origin launch commentator Jacki Cortese said before liftoff. She said she, like so many others, was drawn to space by shows like “Star Trek.”

NASA sent best wishes ahead of the flight, tweeting: "You are, and always shall be, our friend.”

The flight brought priceless star power to Bezos’ space-tourism business, given its built-in appeal to baby boomers, celebrity watchers and space enthusiasts. Shatner starred in TV’s original “Star Trek” from 1966 to 1969, when the U.S. was racing for the moon, and went on to appear in a string of “Star Trek” movies.

Bezos is a huge “Star Trek” fan — the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later movies — and Shatner rode free as his invited guest.

As a favor to Bezos, Shatner took up into space some “Star Trek” tricorders and communicators — sort of the iPhones of the future — that Bezos made when he was a 9-year-old Trekkie. Bezos said his mother had saved them for 48 years.

Bezos himself drove the four crew members to the launch pad, accompanied them to the platform high above the ground and cranked the hatch shut after they climbed aboard the 60-foot rocket. He was there to greet them when the capsule floated back to Earth under its brilliant blue-and-red parachutes.

“Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth!" a jubilant Bezos said as he opened the hatch of the New Shepard capsule, named for first American in space, Alan Shepard.

Shatner and the others wore close-fitting, flame-retardant, royal-blue flight suits, not exactly the tight, futuristic-for-the-’60s V-necks that the crew of the Enterprise had on TV.

The actor said he was struck by the vulnerability of Earth and the relative sliver of its atmosphere.

“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see," he said. “To see the blue color whip by, and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing. The covering of blue, this sheath, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around, we say, ‘Oh, that’s blue sky.’ And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.”

Shatner said the return to Earth was more jolting than his training led him to expect and made him wonder whether he was going to make it back alive.

“Everything is much more powerful," he said. “Bang, this thing hits. That wasn’t anything like the simulator. ... Am I going to be able to survive the G-forces?"

Passengers are subjected to nearly 6 G’s, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, as the capsule descends. Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew met all the medical and physical requirements, including the ability to hustle up and down several flights of steps at the launch tower.

Shatner going into space is “the most badass thing I think I’ve ever seen,” said Joseph Barra, a bartender who helped cater the launch week festivities. “William Shatner is setting the bar for what a 90-year-old man can do.”

The flight comes as the space tourism industry finally takes off, with passengers joyriding aboard ships built and operated by some of the richest men in the world.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson went into space in his own rocket ship in July, followed by Bezos nine days later on Blue Origin’s first flight with a crew. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its first private voyage in mid-September, though without Musk on board.

Last week, the Russians launched an actor and a film director to the International Space Station for a movie-making project.

Blue Origin said it plans one more passenger flight this year and several more in 2022. Sounding like the humane and idealistic Captain Kirk himself, the company said its goal is to “democratize space.”

Shatner strapped in alongside Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president and former space station flight controller for NASA, and two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer, and Glen de Vries of a 3D software company. Blue Origin would not divulge the cost of their tickets.

The flight brought to 597 the number of humans who have flown in space.

“Today’s launch is a testimony to the power of the imagination, and we should not lose sight of that power,” University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank said in an email.

“William Shatner may be `just an actor,' but Captain James T. Kirk represents a collective dream of a hopeful future in space that ‘Star Trek,' and science fiction in general, gave us all,” Frank continued. “Bezos gave Shatner a seat on his rocket because he, like millions of others, fell in love with ‘Star Trek’ and its vision of a boundless frontier for humanity.”

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments
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Congratulations on reaching a height of 1/50th of 1 percent of the distance to the moon.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

I'll say this again - the guy looks and moves great for 90!!!

Your turn, George. Oh my.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Shatner looks very good for 90. Did he beam up Scotty?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Millionaire Shatner was offered a flight by Virgin but refused to pay for it

I think he is closer to a billionaire. The guy has made some very shrewd investments. He's not likely to drop a million dollars on something he thinks he can get for free.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Batman has the Batmobile. Shatner has that interestingly shaped rocket.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

“What you have given me is the most profound experience," an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”- from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: "In an instant you go, 'Whoa, that’s death.' That’s what I saw.” -“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see," he said. “To see the blue color whip by, and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing. The covering of blue, this sheath, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around, we say, ‘Oh, that’s blue sky.’ And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.” -*

I read that in my head with all the dramatic pauses and flourishes of James Tiberius Kirk.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Used to love watching Star Trek as a kid, so glad that the captain finally got to experience space and that he was so exhilarated by what he saw and felt.

Sad that he found the blackness of space ugly, though.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Did Mike Meyers AKA Austin Powers provide input on the rocket design?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He said that going from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: "In an instant you go, 'Whoa, that’s death.' That’s what I saw.”

Will they put that on the brochures?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

commanteer

Reported to be worth $70-$100 million. I guess he might be one of those inside Pandora's Box?

Those sites just don't have access to the information needed to estimate someone's net worth. I do remember he made near 100 million several years back on one investment, and also know that he was a fairly early cryptocurrency investor, which would suggest he has made at least one other pile of money since then. And since he insists on a freebie space flight, I imagine he is good at hanging on to his profits as well.

Then post the sites showing he is a billionaire, the tax people will be interested too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Should have taken Nicolle Nichol (Uhuru) with him and kissed her again.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So proud and delighted by our Bill Shatner words! - The man voluntarily chooses a “near death” experience in the twilight of his life and expresses nothing but gratitude & graciousness:

- “What you have given me is the most profound experience," an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”- from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: "In an instant you go, 'Whoa, that’s death.' That’s what I saw.” -

“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see," he said. “To see the blue color whip by, and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing. The covering of blue, this sheath, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around, we say, ‘Oh, that’s blue sky.’ And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.” -

There may truly be nothing after this and perhaps we should appreciate everything around us?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What a waste for 3 minutes of weightless flight. A lot cheaper to fly in the vomit comet.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow . . . .!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Don’t know about you guys or gals, but ‘brainy girls’ like Audrey Powers are charismatic, (kinda “HOT” actually). - She’s is both an space engineer AND, a lawyer.

https://www.space.com/blue-origin-audrey-powers-launching-with-william-shatner

She was appreciative of flying with both Captain Kirk AND Denny Crane.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Oh, that’s blue sky.’ And then suddenly you shoot through it all, and you’re looking into blackness, into black ugliness.”

What a beautiful experience

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“I saw death and ugliness”

A ringing endorsement to stay down here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Glad his toupee managed to stay on during the moments of weightlessness. Could you imagine if...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Space tourism will only accelerate climate change. Why are rich people continually allowed to destroy our planet for their pleasure? Space tourism should be banned.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My favorite Shattner was from the SNL sketch about him going to a Trekkies convention.

He tells the whole crowd "Get a life, will you people?"

Classic

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why are so many people criticizing Shatner for going to space? This is just another step toward the day when we all can be like Han Solo. John Denver in the late 80s wanted to write a song in space, he never got to. This is a dream. By the time I reach 90 maybe this will be more common and I can do it too.

John Glenn had some introspective thoughts about when he first saw the Big Blue Marble from orbit. He said that it was complete proof and a strengthing of his belief in God.

Congradulations, Capt. William Shatner Kirk. Live longer and keep prospering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

commanteer

Millionaire Shatner was offered a flight by Virgin but refused to pay for it

I think he is closer to a billionaire. The guy has made some very shrewd investments. He's not likely to drop a million dollars on something he thinks he can get for free.

Reported to be worth $70-$100 million. I guess he might be one of those inside Pandora's Box?

But he didn't want to pay for a space flight, he said.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Reported to be worth $70-$100 million. I guess he might be one of those inside Pandora's Box?

Those sites just don't have access to the information needed to estimate someone's net worth. I do remember he made near 100 million several years back on one investment, and also know that he was a fairly early cryptocurrency investor, which would suggest he has made at least one other pile of money since then. And since he insists on a freebie space flight, I imagine he is good at hanging on to his profits as well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Millionaire Shatner was offered a flight by Virgin but refused to pay for it. Congrats to him the old man of space.

Virgin probably regretting not giving him a free ride

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What a waste

I bet you 500 quatloos that someone said something similar to Galileo Galilei about his telescope inventions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Millionaire Shatner was offered a flight by Virgin but refused to pay for it. Congrats to him the old man of space.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see," he said

Sure, we all have a few million bucks just laying around, why not..

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Mhhhhh... And when is the turn for "Luke Skywalker", "Doctor Who" and "Rick & Morty"???..

Congratulations on reaching a height of 1/50th of 1 percent of the distance to the moon.

Best comment of the day !!.. LOOOOOOOL !!..

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

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