Shatner and crew in zero gravity
After making a career out of playing an explorer of the cosmos, William Shatner – Captain James Kirk of “Star Trek” fame – did it for real on Wednesday (October 13) becoming at age 90 the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by billionaire Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin, an experience the actor called profound.
Shatner was one of four passengers to journey for 10 minutes and 17 seconds to the edge of space aboard the white fully autonomous 60-foot-tall (18.3 meters-tall) New Shepard spacecraft, which took off from Blue Origin’s launch site about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.
After the flight, Shatner said the trip was “the most profound experience I can imagine” adding “I am so filled with emotion about what just happened.”
The all-civilian crew experienced a few minutes of weightlessness, having traveled about 65.8 miles (106 km) above the Earth’s surface – higher than the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth.
It marked the second space tourism flight for Blue Origin, the company Bezos – the Amazon.com Inc founder and current executive chairman – founded two decades ago. Bezos flew aboard the first one in July.
The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert from the suborbital flight under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust. Shatner emerged gingerly from the capsule in the desert silence, appearing reflective.
Shatner, who embodied the promise of space travel in the classic 1960s TV series “Star Trek” and seven subsequent films – said he had prepared himself for experiencing weightlessness, but was stunned at the dramatic contrast of the beauty of the blue Earth and the blackness of space.