Star Trek actor becomes oldest person to reach space
Written by Gavin on 13th October 2021
Star Trek actor William Shatner has become the oldest person to reach space, calling his trip “the most profound experience”.
The 90-year-old blasted off from Texas at 3.50pm UK time on a Blue Origin rocket – the space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, spent several minutes in a suborbital flight alongside three others.
After touching down, an emotional Shatner placed his hands on Bezos’s shoulders and told him “what you have given me is the most profound experience… I’m so filled with emotion”.
Before the launch, Shatner admitted he was a “little frightened”.
The 18-metre New Shepard rocket sent the quartet just above the internationally-recognised boundary of space known as the Karman Line, reaching about 66 miles (106km).
The reusable rocket detached from the capsule carrying the astronauts and landed itself upright back on the launch pad.
Shatner experienced weightlessness in his space trip before three large parachutes delivered the capsule back gently to Earth, touching down in the desert at about 15mph.
Bezos opened the capsule’s hatch as Shatner and the others stepped out to cheers and hugs from their families.
The others on the flight were NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers.
Blue Origin’s rocket system is called New Shepard, named after the Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard who was the first American to go into space.
The company aims to attract regular paying customers in future and had its maiden space tourism flight on 20 July, when Bezos and three others flew to the edge of space.
Other billionaires are also competing in the space race, notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.