Star Trek’s William Shatner Becomes Oldest Person In Space

The original Captain Kirk (aka William Shatner) returns to planet earth after brief journey to space aboard Blue Origin rocket

William Shatner has become the oldest man to go to space, after he rode a Blue Origin rocket on Wednesday.

The 90-year-old Shatner , who made his name playing Captain James T Kirk in the Star Trek TV series and subsequent films, took the journey of a lifetime with three other individuals.

The launch demonstrates the growing pace of the space tourism industry, after the concept was kickstarted in the summer, first by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, and then Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin.

To boldly go

Shatner’s trip on the Blue Origin rocket system lasted approximately 10 minutes, compared to the 2 hour plus trip with Virgin Galactic.

The crew capsule landed safely just after 10:00 local time (16:00 BST).

The crew reached a maximum altitude just above 100km (60 miles) and were able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness.

Once at the maximum height, they were able to see the curvature of the Earth through the capsule’s big windows.

Shatner was joined by three others, including Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin VP; Dr Chris Boshuizen, who co-founded the Earth-imaging satellite company Planet; and Glen de Vries, an executive with the French healthcare software corporation Dassault Systèmes.

“Everybody in the world needs to do this,” Shatner was quoted by the BBC as telling Jeff Bezos after landing back on Earth. “It was unbelievable.”

“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an emotional Shatner reportedly said. “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can retain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”

Challenging time

Despite the successful launch of another space mission, Blue Origin has been experiencing a challenging time of late.

In August Blue Origin had to contend with the departure of more than a dozen key leaders and top engineers.

The loss of ‘top talent’ at Blue Origin included at least 17 key leaders and senior engineers, with some joining rival space companies including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Firefly Aerospace.

The company is also pursing a challenge the Government Accountability Office (GAO), after NASA’s decision in early April that it would move forward with SpaceX as the sole contractor for its lunar project.

It has also filed a lawsuit against NASA itself.

More recently a scathing essay written by 21 current and former Blue Origin employees paints a grim picture of toxic work conditions at the firm, and how the burgeoning space race is allegedly compromising flight safety.