Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, played by Hollywood star William Shatner, is getting set for his first real-life space flight onboard the Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule on Wednesday.
The 90-year-old will become the oldest person ever to enter the final frontier when he lifts off from the Blue Origin Space Company’s headquarters in rural Texas.
In a press conference last week, Shatner revealed he had never even really thought about travelling into space, despite all those years playing the fearless commander of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise.
“I’m really excited about the launch and a little bit nervous too,” said Shatner, who has been in training for several weeks – or as he put it, in rehearsals.
The 10-minute, fully automated trip will be the second passenger flight from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and should be similar to the inaugural space launch of July.
Shatner will be joined by three other crewmates including Blue Origin vice-president Audrey Powers, former Nasa engineer and founder of the satellite earth imaging company ‘Planet Labs’, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries, an executive with the French healthcare software corporation Dassault Systèmes.
The three passengers will get to experience a short period of weightlessness of about four to five minutes as they climb to a maximum altitude just above 100 kilometres above sea level.
“There is this mystique of being in space and that much closer to the stars and being weightless,” the Canadian star said.
“I shall be entranced by the view of space. I want to look at that orb and appreciate its beauty and its tenacity,” he added, as the star and his companions will have a beautiful view of space before the capsule glides back down by parachute.
Billionaires’ space race
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket will blast off at 8.30 am CT (3.30 pm CET) from Van Horn, Texas.
“It’s time Captain Kirk actually physically got up into space. I’m kind of excited about that,” said Becky Brewster, mayor of Van Horn, where the Blue Origin spaceport facilities are located.
Bezos, who is a big Star Trek fan and who once made a cameo appearance in one of the movies, invited Shatner to take the flight as a guest.
Shatner plans to get right back to his work as Captain Kirk once he’s back down to Earth.
Jeff Bezos, the 57-year-old Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, is in a tight and competitive race with his fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, in a bid to develop the most viable space tourism company.
The billionaires hope to make space tourism a viable industry for ordinary civilians in future generations.