VAN HORN, Texas — William Shatner on Wednesday became the oldest person to travel into space when he embarked on his first real-life journey into the final frontier on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule.
The 90-year-old actor, who famously portrayed Capt. James T. Kirk from 1966 to 1969 in the original Star Trek series, in several Star Trek movies between 1979 and 1994 and numerous other times over the course of the franchise’s history, blasted off from Van Horn alongside Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers, and crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries.
Update 11:22 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: Actor William Shatner expressed awe Wednesday after traveling to space on a Blue Origin rocket.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos following the flight.
“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just, it’s extraordinary. Extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it -- it’s so, so much larger than me and life.”
He said he saw beautiful soft blue light as the flight traveled further away from Earth before it broke into darkness.
“In an instant you go, ‘Wow, that’s death,’” he said. “That’s what I saw. I am overwhelmed. I had no idea.”
Update 11:14 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos popped champagne Wednesday after the New Shepard capsule landed safely following a flight to space.
“Everybody in the world needs to do this,” an emotional William Shatner said after exiting the capsule. “Everybody in the world needs to see. It was unbelievable.”
Update 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: The New Shepard capsule has touched down after heading into space Wednesday morning with actor William Shatner and three others onboard.
Capsule touchdown, ending what appears to be a successful mission. pic.twitter.com/psrMSRUWzw— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) October 13, 2021
There go the main chutes! The capsule is now descending with our newly minted astronauts at a comfortable 16 mph / 26 km/h. Next stop: a gentle 1 mph / 1.6 km/h landing in the West Texas desert. #NS18— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
#NewShepard booster touchdown! Fourth successful landing for this particular booster. #NS18— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
Update 10:55 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: Officials with Blue Origin said the people abroad the New Shepard NS-18, including actor William Shatner, “are getting out of their seats and experiencing weightlessness” minutes after taking off from Van Horn.
#NewShepard has passed through Max-Q, the point of maximum dynamic pressure on the vehicle.— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
We have confirmed separation of the capsule from the booster. Our astronauts are getting out of their seats and experiencing weightlessness. #NS18— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
The capsule has reached apogee - stay tuned for official confirmation of altitude for today’s flight. Our astronauts are now experiencing amazing views of Earth through #NewShepard’s massive windows. #NS18— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
Update 10:50 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: The New Shepard NS-18 has lifted off from Van Horn, beginning an 11-minute flight into space.
Liftoff! #NewShepard has cleared the tower with astronauts on board for the second time. #NS18— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
Update 10:35 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: The countdown clock for Wednesday’s launch has restarted after being being paused at 15 minutes as Blue Origin prepares for the as the New Shepard NS-18 to launch into space.
The rocket is set to take off around 10:50 a.m.
Blue Origin shared messages Wednesday from crew members on Blue Origin’s first flight in July to those waiting to take off.
Wally Funk, the 82-year-old who in July became the oldest person to fly to space, said she hoped “this flight will be the most fantastic experience of your life, as it was mine.”
>> Related: Who is Wally Funk, the 82-year-old woman who just went to space?
The youngest person to fly into space, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, wished the crew well and said, “I can assure you that it will better than your best imagination.”
#NS18 mission control reads surprise messages from the NS-16 crew:@OliverDaemen: "I can assure you that it will be better than your best imagination."— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) October 13, 2021
Wally Funk: "I hope this flight will be the most fantastic experience of your life, as it was mine." pic.twitter.com/4HhZ94iyU4
Update 10:07 a.m. EDT Oct. 13: The crew of the New Shepard NS-18 are in final preparations for takeoff from Van Horn on Wednesday morning after a brief delay to give mission teams time to analyze winds near the launchpad, according to Blue Origin and The New York Times.
The #NS18 crew are moving across the crew access gantry and getting strapped in for their ride to space and back. Watch live at https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
We are go for #NS18 astronaut load. The crew is headed to the launch tower for final preparations and capsule load. Watch the launch live on https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
>> Related: Weather delays Capt. Kirk’s flight: William Shatner will blast off Wednesday
Original report: William Shatner is set to embark on his first real-life journey into space.
According to The Associated Press, the 90-year-old “Star Trek” actor is scheduled to board Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule and rocket Wednesday morning before heading to the edge of the final frontier. Three other people – crew members Glen de Vries, Chris Boshuizen and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations – will accompany Shatner on the 10-minute flight, which lifts off at 9 a.m. CDT from Van Horn, Texas.
Lead flight director Nick Patrick sat down with Ariane Cornell this morning to provide a status update on the #NS18 mission and our approach to safety. Check it out: https://t.co/oY49ysF1jS— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 12, 2021
Today, astronauts are getting familiar with the launch tower, redundant safety features of the #NewShepard crew capsule, as well as, ingress and egress procedures. Astronaut training will be completed at the end of the day.— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 12, 2021
Live launch coverage begins at 7:30 am CDT / 12:30 UTC on https://t.co/7Y4TherpLr— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 12, 2021
In a video shared Tuesday on Instagram, Shatner shared his enthusiasm for his upcoming trip and praised Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who flew to space aboard the same capsule and rocket on July 20.
>> Related: Jeff Bezos launches into space
“Jeff Bezos’ concept to make living and building in space, and to make pollution a thing of the past – what noble ambitions those are, and somebody has to start them,” Shatner said in the video. “We’re just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning it is, how extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning.”
Wednesday’s flight comes more than three months after Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson traveled to space aboard his own rocket on July 11, according to the AP. In September, SpaceX also sent an all-civilian crew into orbit, although company founder Elon Musk did not join them, the AP reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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