Blue Origin: Star Trek’s ‘Captain Kirk’, Actor William Shatner Part Of Crew Flying To Space In October

Blue Origin: Star Trek’s ‘Captain Kirk’, Actor William Shatner Part Of Crew Flying To Space In October

by Karan Kamble - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 06:01 PM IST
Blue Origin: Star Trek’s ‘Captain Kirk’, Actor William Shatner Part Of Crew Flying To Space In OctoberWilliam Shatner at Loyal Studios, "Star Trek" Behind the Scenes (Photo: Bob Bekian/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Actor William Shatner will be flying to space on Jeff Bezos' space venture Blue Origin's second human flight.

    Shatner played the iconic role of Captain Kirk in space drama Star Trek.

Actor William Shatner is all set to make his non-fictional space debut.

The Hollywood star has been named alongside Blue Origin senior executive Audrey Powers as a crew member on an upcoming space tourism flight by Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos’ space venture.

Names of two other crew members, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries, were announced over a week ago. The four tourists will go up to space on Blue Origin’s second human flight.

They will fly on New Shepard’s eighteenth mission, NS-18, which will lift off from Launch Site One in West Texas at 1.30 pm UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), which translates to 7 pm on Tuesday, 12 October, in Indian Standard Time.

New Shepard is Blue Origin's reusable suborbital rocket system in charge of shipping people and payloads to space. It is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space.

The big draw of the NS-18 mission will now be Shatner’s presence in the crew capsule. Hollywood star Shatner earned global fame for essaying the iconic role of Captain James T Kirk, the commanding officer of the starship Enterprise, in the television series and, later, feature film franchise Star Trek.

Over the years, he has also been an author, producer, director, screenplay writer, and singer.

Now, aged 90 years, he is in line to become the oldest person to fly to space. He is set to replace aviator Wally Funk, aged 82, who flew on Blue Origin’s first-ever human flight on 20 July 2021.

The 12 October NS-18 tourism flight follows that milestone maiden flight.

Jeff Bezos and his younger brother Mark Bezos, along with 18-year-old student and Blue Origin’s first paying customer Oliver Daemen and 82-year-old Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk, went to space and back on Blue Origin’s first human flight.

They crossed the “Kármán line” — named after Hungarian physicist Theodore von Kármán and recognised as an imaginary boundary separating the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, about 100 km above mean sea level — before coming back to land in the West Texas desert.

Daemen became the youngest person to go to space and, unlike Funk, will be holding on to his record for a bit.

The maiden flight took place just nine days after Virgin Galactic made its first visit to near-space on 11 July. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson was part of the crew that flew on board VSS Unity, registering the company’s fourth rocket-powered spaceflight and the fourth with crew.

More recently, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit, called “Inspiration4”, was accomplished successfully.

A four-member crew was lifted up to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 15 September from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They spent three days orbiting the Earth on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft before safely splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Kennedy Space Center.

The upcoming Blue Origin human flight will be another step towards regular civilian space flights.

Shatner’s crew mates will be Boshuizen, de Vries, and Powers.

Boshuizen worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center from 2008 to 2012. He co-founded Planet Labs in 2010, which images the Earth every day.

Glen de Vries is behind Medidata Solutions, the world’s most used clinical research platform, which he co-founded in 1999. Medidata was acquired by Dassault Systèmes in 2019.

Powers is Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations. She was an engineer with NASA on the International Space Station programme before she turned to law.

Powers has been at Blue Origin since 2013, serving initially as Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Legal & Compliance and later taking leadership of all New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing, and ground support infrastructure.

According to a Blue Origin statement, she “played a lead role in the multi-year process to certify New Shepard for human flight”.

“This has been a dream of mine my entire life and I am so excited to finally make it happen as part of the next New Shepard crew,” Boshuizen tweeted after the earlier announcement on 27 September.

Similarly, de Vries said in a tweet: “I’ve been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, and a long-awaited dream of mine is about to become a reality.”

Powers has said she is “excited to continue writing Blue’s human spaceflight history”.

Thousands of postcards from Blue Origin’s foundation, “Club for the Future”, will fly alongside the crew on 12 October.

These “postcards to space” contain students’ vision of what life in space will look like someday, including notes to self.

The cards will be sent to space and back, and returned to their respective student owners with the “flown to space” stamp.

Also Read: For Jeff Bezos, Space Tourism Is “Practice” For Loftier Space Goals

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