Blue Origin Says ‘Star Trek’ Actor William Shatner To Fly To Space Next Week – Spaceflight Now

Actor William Shatner. Credit: NASA

Blue Origin confirmed on Monday that actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” will fly into space during a suborbital launch on October 12 from West Texas.

Monday’s announcement followed a report last month from TMZ that a sci-fi actor was flying into space during a Blue Origin launch.

“Yes, that’s right,” Shatner tweeted Monday. “I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’ “

Shatner will fly in Blue Origin’s second New Shepard booster launch with human passengers – and the 18th New Shepard launch overall – after a first crewed mission in July. On this flight, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen soared to an altitude of 66 miles (107 kilometers), just above of the internationally recognized limit of space.

Funk, 82, became the oldest person to fly in space during the July 20 launch. 90-year-old Shatner will break this record.

“I’ve been hearing about space for a long time now. I take this opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle, ”Shatner said in a statement.

Shatner will join three others on the New Shepard rocket. Blue Origin announced the first two passengers last week.

Powers, engineer and lawyer, is the vice president of mission and flight operations for Blue Origin. She was the International Space Station flight controller for NASA before joining Blue Origin in 2013.

“As an engineer and lawyer with over two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we have developed,” said Powers.

The October 12 flight is Blue Origin’s first since 21 current and former employees issued an open letter alleging sexism and a stifling culture of dissent within the private space company. Employees also raised concerns about the security of New Shepard’s system.

Blue Origin said in a statement that it does not tolerate discrimination in harassment, but a spokesperson did not specifically address the safety concerns raised in the open letter.

The other two passengers on mission NS-18 are paying customers.

Chris Boshuizen co-founded Planet Labs, now known as Planet, in 2010 and was CTO of the San Francisco-based company for five years. Planet builds small spacecraft and operates a fleet of more than 100 Earth imaging satellites to collect remote sensing images daily.

Glen de Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions in 1999, a software company widely used in clinical trials. He is now vice president of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, which acquired Medidata for $ 5.8 billion in 2019. Blue Origin said de Vries is also a director of Carnegie Mellon University. , author and private pilot.

Blue Origin did not disclose how much customers paid for their seats. Both took part in a charity auction in June for a seat on the first New Shepard flight with human passengers. The winning bid for this seat, which ultimately went to Daemen through his father, was $ 28 million.

Shatner is a longtime space enthusiast and advocate of space exploration. He played the role of Captain Kirk in the television series “Star Trek” in the 1960s, and in seven films, including one he directed.

The space trip will last approximately 10 minutes after liftoff from Blue Origin’s launch site near Van Horn, Texas. Shatner and his co-passengers will spend several minutes in microgravity, giving them the ability to detach from their seats and float in the cabin of Blue Origin’s crew module.

The reusable New Shepard booster will return to Earth for a propellant landing, and the crew capsule will descend under three main parachutes, landing a few miles from the launch site in West Texas.

Shatner’s trip to space comes amid a boom in private human spaceflight.

Virgin Galactic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, competes with Blue Origin in suborbital space flight. Branson and five other Virgin Galactic employees flew to the edge of space in July over New Mexico on the company’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.

SpaceX launched four private citizens into orbit on a three-day mission last month, and a Russian actress and director is preparing to launch to the International Space Station on Tuesday. They will shoot scenes on the space station for a Russian feature film before returning to Earth later this month.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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