“That was unlike anything they described,” Shatner was heard saying via a radio link as the capsule parachuted back to Earth.
“Everybody in the world needs to do this,” he told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos after landing. “That was unbelievable.”
The reusable New Shepard rocket and capsule lifted off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One, just north of the West Texas town of Van Horn, at 9: 49 a.m. local time (10: 49 a.m. EDT; 1449 GMT). After a 10-minute flight, during which the crew experienced about four minutes of weightlessness in outer space, the capsule safely delivered the crew back to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing near Blue Origin’s West Texas facilities.
The rocket, which separated from the capsule after lofting the crew to space, also successfully executed an upright landing about seven minutes after liftoff, touching down just 2 miles (3 kilometers) north of the launchpad. The capsule reached a max altitude of nearly 66 miles (106 km), 4 miles higher than the widely recognized boundary of space.
Shatner is now the oldest person to have ever flown to space, beating the record set by the 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who flew on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight with the company’s founder Jeff Bezos on July 20.
Shatner, aka Captain Kirk, is however not the first “Star Trek” actor to fly to space; that title goes to NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, who appeared in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (Jemison, who served as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, was also the first Black woman to fly to space.) The ashes of the late actors James Doohan, who portrayed Scotty on Star Trek, and Majel Barrett Roddenberry (who voiced the computer and portrayed Lwaxana Troi on The Next Generation, have also been launched to space, as have those of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Joining Shatner on the NS-18 mission were three other private crewmembers, including Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations; Glen de Vries, vice chair for life sciences and healthcare at the French software company Dassault Systèmes; and Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Earth observation company Planet.
“It was incredible,” de Vries told Bezos after launch, adding that he was still processing the experience.
While Boshuizen and de Vries paid for their seats on New Shepard — Blue Origin did not say how much they paid — Powers joined the mission as part of her professional role at Blue Origin. Before taking on her current position at the company, Powers served as an engineer and a space lawyer, and she was previously a flight controller for NASA’s International Space Station program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Just one hour before launch, Blue Origin’s Crew Member Seven Sarah Knights presented each passenger with a challenge coin signifying the completion of their training. The coin presentation, which Blue Origin webcast live, is a new tradition by the company. Shatner had a bit of fun with the coin, offering to flip it to decide whether to launch.
“Heads we go, tails we don’t!” he joked.
Bezos then drove the crew to Launch Site One in an electric Rivian truck, with Shatner in the center seat like he would take on the bridge of the USS Enterprise on “Star Trek.” Bezos accompanied the crew up to their capsule, where they rang a ship’s bell as they crossed the gantry to New Shepard. After the flight, Bezos presented each of the four crewmembers with Blue Origin astronaut wings just after they exited their capsule at their West Texas desert landing site.
“Okay, guys, we have four astronauts before you,” Bezos said.
During their flight, the crew tra