BACK ON EARTH Blue Origins vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers (left), ‘Star Trek’ actor William Shatner (second from left), Planet Labs cofounder Chris Boshuizen (third from left) and Medidata Solutions cofounder Glen de Vries attend a media availability on the landing pad of Blue Origin New Shepard after they flew into space on Oct. 13, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas. Shatner, 90, became the oldest person to fly into space on the 10-minute flight. They flew aboard mission NS-18, the second human spaceflight for the company, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. AFP PHOTO
VAN HORN: Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space on Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.
The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers hurtled to an altitude of 107 kilometers over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos after climbing out the hatch, the words spilling from him in a soliloquy almost as long as the flight. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
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.”
Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.
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.”
“This is a pinch-me moment for all of us to see Capt. James Tiberius Kirk go to space,” Blue Origin launch commentator Jacki Cortese said before liftoff. She said she, like so many others, was drawn to space by shows like “Star Trek.”