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William Shatner Will Boldly Become the Oldest Person in Space, Thanks to Jeff Bezos

Steve Palace
(Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB)

William Shatner is set to become the oldest person in space at the age of 90. The Star Trek actor has been signed up to ship out on New Shepard, the rocket built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

“I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” Shatner tweeted, referencing his unique 1970s cover version of the Elton John classic.

The journey reportedly takes 10 minutes, with the craft soaring over 60 miles up – here lies the boundary known as the Karman Line.

Who are William Shatner’s crewmates?

On the set of the TV series Star Trek (Photo Credit: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

On the set of the TV series Star Trek (Photo Credit: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

Back in his days aboard the Enterprise, Kirk relied on trusty crewmates Spock, Sulu, Scotty, and others. Who will have Shatner’s back for this once-in-a-lifetime trip?

Blue Origin Mission and Flight Operations VP Audrey Powers is along for the ride. Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen posted a jokey tweet about his involvement: “This dork will be the third Australian going to space”.

Glen de Vries of Dassault Systèmes completes the cosmic line up.

From the USS Enterprise to New Shepard

(Photo Credit: Desilu Productions/Paramount Television/Norway Corporation & MovieStillsDB)

(Photo Credit: Desilu Productions/Paramount Television/Norway Corporation & MovieStillsDB)

The New Shepard rocket made headlines earlier in the year when it went on Blue Origin’s first crewed space flight.

Those worried about Shatner’s advancing age may like to know about the criteria for joining the flight. Space.com reports that, in addition to height and weight restrictions, passengers should “be able to climb seven flights of stairs in 90 seconds and remain in a reclined seat for at least 90 minutes”.

This would surely be a breeze for a man who used to fight Klingons every other week.

Captain Kirk is boldly going into space at the age of 90

Cape Canaveral, Fla.: Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. enters his Mercury 7 for a test. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

Cape Canaveral, Fla.: Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. enters his Mercury 7 for a test. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

Rumors about the actor turning into a real space Captain have been circulating for weeks. In a statement, Shatner described his surprise voyage as “a miracle”.

“I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” he said. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself”.

While the actor and show business personality is headed for the stars, he has competition on the age front. Shatner will be the oldest person in suborbital space. However, veteran astronaut John Glenn (who passed away in 2016) is the oldest to reach orbit. Glenn was 77 when he undertook his envelope-pushing mission.

In becoming the oldest suborbital astronaut, Shatner breaks a record set just months previously.

Shatner takes the title from Wally Funk

Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk arrive for a press conference after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk arrive for a press conference after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Bezos included veteran space expert Wally Funk. She’d faced obstacles bigger than Jupiter in her efforts to travel into space. Blue Origin welcomed her to the New Shepard in more enlightened times. At 82, she was the oldest to reach the final frontier.

So what’s it like journeying into space at such an age? As quoted by The Guardian, Funk said: “the noise wasn’t quite as bad [as expected]”, later adding: “I felt great, I felt like I was just laying down and I was going into space”.

Bumpy ride for Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos

 

Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (Photo Credit: CBS Productions)

Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (Photo Credit: CBS Productions)

It hasn’t been a smooth ride for billionaire Bezos and his space-bound brand. Safety concerns were raised by Blue Origin staff both past and present. BBC News also reports that they “complained of a culture of sexism”. Audrey Powers and others have rebuffed the claims.

Bezos may take comfort from the fact that Shatner’s involvement means one in the eye for fellow wealthy star explorer Sir Richard Branson. Branson tried to get William Shatner aboard a space flight years ago, but the actor wasn’t interested.

BBC News notes the conflicting reasons given. Branson stated Shatner hated flying (plausible given his role in The Twilight Zone). Shatner, on the other hand, said he bailed because he was asked to pay for the privilege.

Space.com mentions the $28 million price tag of a Blue Origin seat – this was raised at auction. The company hasn’t disclosed an official price list for travelers.

Ashes to ashes

James Doohan and George Takei during 1993 Video Software Dealers Association Convention at Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

James Doohan and George Takei during 1993 Video Software Dealers Association Convention at Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

William Shatner’s former co-star James Doohan (1920-2005) went into space, albeit in cremated form.

Space X carried his remains up there, though it was revealed his ashes had previously been smuggled onto the International Space Station in 2008 by video game developer Richard Garriott. He did this at the request of Doohan’s family.

Shatner has also been having fun with commentators such as The Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady:

More from us: Meet The Aerospace Engineer Who Saved Apollo 13 While Giving Birth To Jack Black

Blast off takes place in a matter of days, with Shatner and co boarding the rocket on Oct 12th.