William Shatner is boldly going where no nonegenarian Hollywood star has gone before. The 90-year-old Star Trek actor was set to blast off Wednesday morning aboard the Blue Origin rocket in West Texas.
It will be the second human flight for Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the Amazon billlionaire’s private aerospace company. Shatner and his fellow crew mates are expected to be in space for just several minutes, reaching an altitude of 66 miles, befor the rocket parachutes back to Earth.
William Shatner and the other three passengers began strapping in for a morning launch from remote West Texas on a trip expected to last just 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule set to reach an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers) before parachuting back to the desert floor.
Bezos’ space travel company, Blue Origin, invited Shatner on the jaunt to the final frontier, a mission that would make him the oldest person in space.
Bezos himself drove the four to the pad and was with them on the platform high above the ground as they climbed aboard the 60-foot rocket. The capsule, New Shepard, was named for first American in space, Alan Shepard.
“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 the space business by shows like “Star Trek.”
It was Blue Origin’s second scheduled passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Bezos used for his own launch three months ago.
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson kicked off the U.S.-based space tourism boom in July, riding his own rocket ship to space. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk stayed behind as his SpaceX company launched its first tourist flight last month.
And last week, the Russians sent an actor and film director to the International Space Station for movie-making.
“We’re just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is. How extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted on the eve of his flight.
Rounding out the crew: a Blue Origin vice president and two entrepreneurs. Blue Origin did not divulge their ticket prices. Shatner was invited to ride for free.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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