VAN HORN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — William Shatner, 90, beamed up Wednesday for his first real-life spaceflight and became the oldest person ever to enter the final frontier.
In a 10-minute trip just beyond the Kármán line, Shatner was joined by three others on the second passenger flight from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Unlike his fictional galactic voyages in “Star Trek,” Shatner launched from a site in west Texas, southeast of El Paso.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos after climbing out the hatch. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
Bezos’ space travel company, Blue Origin, used the same capsule and rocket that Bezos used for his own launch three months ago. The crew’s capsule reached an apogee of 347,539 ft. above ground level and had a maximum altitude of about 66 miles before parachuting back into the desert.
“How about that, guys? That was unlike anything they described,” the actor said as the capsule descended.
He said that going from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: “In an instant you go, `Whoa, that’s death.’ That’s what I saw.”
This video is courtesy of Blue Origin and the announcers and commentary are from Blue Origin staff.
Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the brave and principled commander of the starship Enterprise boldly go where no star of American TV has gone before. The internet went wild, with Trekkies quoting favorite lines from Kirk, including, “Risk: Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about.”
Bezos is a huge “Star Trek” fan — the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later movies — and Shatner rode free as his invited guest.
The flight brought priceless star power to Bezos’ space-tourism business.
Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson kicked off the U.S.-based space tourism boom on July 11, riding his own rocketship to space. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk stayed behind as his SpaceX company launched its first private flight last month, sending a billionaire, cancer survivor and two ticket winners into orbit.
Last week, the Russians sent an actor and film director to the International Space Station for movie-making.
“We’re just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is. How extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted on the eve of his flight. “It looks like there’s a great deal of curiosity about this fictional character, Captain Kirk, going into space. So let’s go along with it and enjoy the ride.”
Rounding out the crew: Blue Origin Vice President Audrey Powers and two entrepreneurs, Glen de Vries and Chris Boshuizen, who bid unsuccessfully for a seat on the previous flight with Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Blue Origin did not disclose their ticket prices.
Bezos himself drove the four crew members to the launch pad, accompanied them to the platform high above the ground and cranked the hatch shut after they climbed aboard the 60-foot rocket. He was there to greet them when the capsule floated back to Earth under its brilliant blue-and-red parachutes.
“Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth!” a jubilant Bezos said as he opened the hatch of the New Shepard capsule, named for first American in space, Alan Shepard.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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