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Actor William Shatner soared aboard a Blue Origin rocketship on a suborbital trip and landed in the Texas desert Wednesday to become at age 90 the oldest person ever in space as U.S. billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos’s company carried out its second tourist flight.
Shatner was one of four passengers to journey to the edge of space aboard the white fully autonomous 18.3 meters-tall (60-foot-tall) New Shepard spacecraft, which took off from Blue Origin’s launch site about 32 kilometers outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.
The four astronauts experienced about three to four minutes of weightlessness and traveled above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 100 kilometers above Earth. The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust.
The four astronauts, all wearing blue flight suits with the company’s name in white letters on one sleeve, climbed into the crew capsule atop the spacecraft before the launch and strapped in after ascending a set of stairs accompanied by Bezos. Each rang a bell before entering the capsule, with Bezos then closing the hatch. Before that, they rode a vehicle with Bezos at the wheel to the launch pad.
Winds were light and skies were clear for the launch, which was conducted after two delays totaling roughly 45 minutes. Joining Shatner – who embodied the promise of space travel in the classic 1960s TV series “Star Trek” and seven subsequent films – in the all-civilian crew were former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin Vice President and engineer Audrey Powers.
It marked the second space tourism flight for Blue Origin, billionaire U.S. businessman Jeff Bezos’s company founded two decades ago. (Reuters)