|October 20, 2021|
Blue Origin launches William Shatner to the final frontier
VAN HORN, Texas — William Shatner has boldly gone where no 90-year-old has ever gone before.
The famed "Star Trek" actor and three other private crewmembers launched into space Wednesday on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket, marking the second time that Blue Origin has successfully launched a crewed suborbital mission on its vehicle for space tourism. Dubbed NS-18, it was the 18th flight of a New Shepard vehicle overall.
"That was unlike anything they described," Shatner was heard saying via a radio link as the capsule parachuted back to Earth.
"Everybody in the world needs to do this," he told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos after landing. "That was unbelievable."
The reusable New Shepard rocket and capsule lifted off from Blue Origin's Launch Site One, just north of the West Texas town of Van Horn. After an 11-minute flight, during which the crew experienced about four minutes of weightlessness in outer space, the capsule safely delivered the crew back to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing near Blue Origin's West Texas facilities.
The rocket, which separated from the capsule after lofting the crew to space, also successfully executed an upright landing about seven minutes after liftoff, touching down just 2 miles north of the launchpad.
Just one hour before launch, Blue Origin presented each passenger with a challenge coin signifying the completion of their training. The coin presentation, which Blue Origin webcast live, is a new tradition by the company. Shatner had a bit of fun with the coin, offering to flip it to decide whether to launch.
"Heads we go, tails we don't!" he joked.
During their flight, the crew traveled just above the Kármán line, an internationally recognized boundary of space, which is about 62 miles (100 km) above sea level.
Shatner was visibly moved by the experience, wiping tears from his face as he tried to describe it, space.com reported.
"What you have given me is the most profound experience I could ever imagine," Shatner told Bezos after launch.
Story Date: October 14, 2021