After days of speculation, William Shatner has confirmed he will boldly go where no 90-year-old has gone before by shooting into space aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin aircraft.
The ‘Star Trek’ alum, who has perhaps had more space voyages on television than any other actor, finally confirmed the news that he will be taking off into the abyss for real this time. “So now I can say something. Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” the actor tweeted on October 4. He latter added: “It’s never too late to experience new things.”
TMZ first broke the story 10 days ago that Shatner would hitch a ride aboard the Amazon founder’s Blue Origin rocket on October 12 for a 15-minute flight into space, making him the oldest man to jet off into the yonder aged 90. The mission will also be filmed for a space documentary, which we assume will find its way on the Amazon Prime Video platform at a later date.
Blue Origin also confirmed the news on its official Twitter handle, while also revealing who Shatner would be hanging out with on board. “Two incredible and inspirational people will join the #NS18 crew. Actor @WilliamShatner and Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers @AudreyKPowers,” the company tweeted.
Two other paying customers will join Shatner in the Blue Origin capsule as he becomes the second actor to reach space this month: Russia is launching an actress and a film director to the International Space Station on Tuesday for almost two weeks of moviemaking according to AP.
Shatner’s flight is expected to reach no higher than about 106km. The capsule will parachute back to the desert floor, not far from where it took off.
Shatner, who portrayed Captain James T Kirk in the popular ‘Star Trek’ franchise, has previously expressed his desire to take a space flight. Last year, the actor shared an image of himself in a spacesuit and tweeted it to US space agency Nasa, asking if he could join the SpaceX crew to the International Space Station. What’s Elon Musk’s loss is Bezos’ gain. Bezos himself is apparently a huge fan of Shatner’s sci-fi series and even had a cameo as an alien in the 2016 film ‘Star Trek Beyond’.
As the space race picks up, Shatner has long been an advocate for space tourism. During a panel discussion entitled ‘Back to the Moon and Beyond With Nasa’ at the San Diego Comic-Con, the actor had hinted at the possibility of going on a commercial suborbital space flight in the future. “There’s a possibility that I’m going to go up for a brief moment and come back down,” Shatner had said at the time.
The drive for space tourism has accelerated over the last year with the 71-year-old Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson flying 85km above the Earth as part of the company’s Unity 22 mission earlier this year.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX also successfully sent the world’s first all-civilian crew roughly 579km into orbit, the farthest for any human since the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions, for three days.
For Blue Origin, Shatner’s flight will be the second launch of a crew. The debut flight had Bezos himself on board, which took off on July 20. Joining him on that flight was his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk — the youngest and oldest to fly in space. Shatner will break that upper threshold by eight years.
As news of Shatner’s space launch broke on Twitter, many of his celebrity friends congratulated the actor on the feat.
“This is … I mean … come on. This is … surely you agree. This is EVERYTHING,” posted actor-comedian Stephen Fry.
“@WilliamShatner is going to space? My man! I guess this means I have to become a marine biologist,” posted film and TV actor Jason Alexander.
“Congrats, @WilliamShatner! If you really gets to go to space, I hope I can really figure out how to get an invisible plane,” wrote Lynda Carter, who played TV’s original Wonder Woman.
Meanwhile, actor Sean Maguire imparted sound advice to Shatner ahead of his voyage. “You be careful up there. No messing about and pressing all the buttons. I’ve made you a nice pack lunch & Capri sun…..Jokes aside. This is amazing. Good luck Bill.”