VAN HORNE, Texas (AP) – Hollywood Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shutter, blasted into space with science fiction and science fiction on Wednesday, the last time Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin ship reached.
The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers wound up in a fully automatic capsule at an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) in the West Texas desert, then parachuted safely to the ground in a flight lasting more than 10 minutes. ۔
“What you’ve given me is the deepest experience,” an enthusiastic Shatner told Bezos as he stepped out of the capsule, his words spreading in unison for almost the entire length of the flight. “I hope I never get better with it. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
He said moving from the blue sky to the total darkness of space was a moving experience: “In a moment you go, wow, that’s death. That’s what I saw.”
Shatner became the oldest person in space to break the previous record – set by a passenger on a similar voyage on the Bezos spacecraft in July – for eight years. The flight consisted of about three minutes of weightless and rotating views of the earth.
Sci-Fi fans are thrilled to see the famous Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise brazenly go to a place where no American TV star has gone before.
“It’s for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go into space,” Blue Origin Launch commentator Jackie Curtis said before the lift. She said she, like many others, was attracted to the space business through shows like “Star Trek”.
Bezos is a huge “Star Trek” fan – the founder of Amazon did a cameo in later “Star Trek” movies as a stranger – and Shatner was a free rider as his invited guest.
The blast brought precious star power to the Bezos spacecraft company, appealing to baby boomers, celebrities and space fans. Shatner worked on the original TV show “Star Trek” from 1966 to 1969, when the United States was racing for the moon, and “Star Trek” appeared in a series of movies.
Bezos himself escorted four crew members to the pads, accompanied them to a platform above the ground, and cracked the hatch after boarding a 60-foot rocket. A cheerful Bezos was there to greet them as the capsule floated to the ground under its magnificent blue and red parachute.
“Hello, astronaut. Welcome to Earth!” Bezos said as he opened the hatch of the New Shepherd capsule, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.
Shatner said he was affected by the Earth’s weakness and the relative weakness of its atmosphere.
“Everyone in the world needs to do that,” he said. “Everyone in the world needs to see it.” The blue cover, this sheath, this blanket, this blue comforter all around us, we say, oh, this is the blue sky. And then all of a sudden you shot them all, and you see the blackness, in the black ugliness.
He said his return to Earth was more shocking than his training, which led him to expect and wonder if he was going to make it a living home.
“Everything is very powerful,” he said. “Bang, this thing hits. It was nothing like a simulator. Can I survive the G-Forces? Can I escape it?”
Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew meet all medical and physical needs, including the ability to take off and land multiple foot flights at the launch tower. As soon as the capsule returns to Earth, the passengers are subjected to approximately 66 g, or six times the force of the Earth’s gravity.
“I think I’ve never seen one,” said Joseph Barra, a bartender who helped complete the Blue Origin launch weekend. “William Shatner is setting the bar for what a 90-year-old can do.”
The flight comes as the space tourism industry finally begins, aboard passenger planes built and operated by some of the world’s richest men.
Richard Branson of the Virgin Galactic led his own rocket in space in July, and nine days later Bezos flew with his crew to Blue Origin for the first time. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its maiden voyage in mid-September, although it did not have a boat.
Last week, the Russians launched an actor and a film director for a filmmaking project on the International Space Station.
Blue Origin said it plans to fly another passenger this year and several more in 2022.
Trapped with Shatner Audrey Powers, vice president of Blue Origin and former NASA space station flight controller, and two paying customers: Cross Boschwizen, a former NASA engineer who co-founded a satellite company, and a 3D Glenn de Vries of the software company. Blue Origin will not disclose the price of their tickets.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is fully responsible for all content.
Dunn reports from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Associated Press video journalist Cody Jackson contributed to this story.