William Shatner now can say that he has boldly gone where no man his age (his age), has gone before.
He’s certainly not the first person to visit space, but as of Wednesday the “Star Trek” veteran is the oldest. At 90, the actor joined Blue Origin, founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2000, for its second-ever human spaceflight. Shatner and three others were launched in a New Shepard rocket from the aerospace company’s West Texas launch site just before 11 a.m. ET.
Shatner, who was describing the experience as “unlike any they had experienced,” was heard saying that crew had safely returned to Earth a few minutes later. To show their safety, all four passengers gave thumbs up when they landed to confirm that everything was fine.
Bezos welcomed the passengers outside of the landing capsule with a double thumbs up. He was followed by passengers’ relatives and friends who cheered as well.
Bezos told Shatner, “In some way it’s almost indefinable.” “Not only is it different than what you thought, it happened so quickly. The impression I had that I never expected to have is the shooting up: There’s blue sky –” he paused as Bezos sprayed a bottle of champagne.
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This is something that everyone in the world should do. Shatner said that everyone in the world should see it. It was amazing. The little things – the weightless – but to see the blue color (of the sky) whip by you and now you’re staring into blackness. … And then it’s gone. It was very powerful. The experience was amazing.
Bezos heard from Shatner who was emotional and reaffirmed to him how in awe the things he witnessed and how they prompted his to think about life and death.
Bezos said that he had received the most profound experience imaginable from him. “I wish I could never recover from it.”
Viewers can watch back the launch at USA TODAY’s live stream of the event.
Shatner, best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” franchise, said in a press release Oct. 4 that he had “heard about space for a long time now” and was “taking the opportunity to see it for myself.”
But Shatner also admitted to being nervous to go to space.
“I am terrified!” he said during New York Comic Con Thursday, according to Space.com. “I know !…I am Captain bloody Kirk. I’m afraid!”
The launch had been scheduled for Tuesday but forecasted high winds prompted a delay to the following day. Blue Origin announced prior to the launch that it would last just 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule reaching a maximum altitude of about 66 miles before parachuting back into the desert.
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Along with Shatner, the spaceflight passengers in Blue Origin’s second human spaceflight included Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers, a former NASA engineer and tech entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen and the founder of a clinical trials software company Glen de Vries. The latter two passengers paid for tickets for the flight – Blue Origin has not publicly disclosed the price of tickets, though Bezos has previously said totals of tickets sold were nearing $100 million.
A statement on Blue Origin’s website added that New Shepard NS-18 met all mission requirements and the astronauts were prepared through training.
Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight launched on July 20, when it flew Bezos, Bezos’ brother Mark, Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk (formerly the oldest person in space) and 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen (son of a hedge fund manager) to suborbital space.
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Contributing: Rob Landers Florida Today; Marcia Dunn Associated Press Martha Pskowski El Paso Times John Bacon Emre Kelly USA Today