William Shatner of 'Star Trek' to boldly go into space

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin company to send another rocket into space with actor on board, making him the oldest space traveller ever

From left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries will make their journey into space on Wednesday. Blue Origin via AP
Powered by automated translation

Decades since making his first appearance as Captain James T Kirk in the Star Trek franchise, actor William Shatner will venture into outer space.

At age 90, he will become the oldest person in history to visit space on Wednesday.

The mission, called NS-18, comes three months after US billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first soared into space aboard a rocket ship built by his Blue Origin company.

Shatner will now be able to live out the mission he described during the opening credits of each episode of the series: to explore “space – the final frontier”.

There will be a live stream of the event on YouTube, scheduled to start at 9.30am EST. Find other ways to watch the event here.

After a 24-hour weather-related postponement, Shatner and his fellow passengers are now set to strap into Blue Origin's fully autonomous 18.3-metre-tall New Shepard rocket, blasting off from a base in the tiny west Texas town of Van Horn.

“I'm going to see the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of our Earth and how fragile it is compared to the forces at work in the universe,” Shatner told NBC's Today programme.

“I'm thrilled and anxious – and a little nervous and a little frightened – about this whole new adventure.”

Shatner also admitted to being nervous during a New York Comic-Con panel last week.

“I'm Captain Kirk and I'm terrified of going to space,” he said.

Wednesday's flight is expected to last about as long as Blue Origin's inaugural mission with Mr Bezos, which lasted a little over 10 minutes.

The vessel carried Mr Bezos and the three other passengers 107 kilometres above Earth, giving them a few moments of weightlessness, which Shatner said he is looking forward to.

On that first flight, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk became the oldest person to venture into space at age 82.

The three other crew members joining Shatner include Chris Boshuizen, a former Nasa engineer; Glen de Vries, a clinical research entrepreneur; and Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president and engineer.

I'm Captain Kirk and I'm terrified of going to space
William Shatner

The launch comes less than two weeks after the US Federal Aviation Administration said it will review safety concerns raised by former and current Blue Origin employees who asserted that the company was prioritising speed and cost savings over quality control and adequate staffing.

Blue Origin, founded by Mr Bezos in 2000, promised to investigate any claims of misconduct and defended its safety record, calling New Shepard “the safest space vehicle ever designed or built".

The latest launch continues Mr Bezos's rivalry with other space-hungry billionaires – Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson – the latter winning the bragging rights as the first among them to visit space.

Mr Musk's SpaceX company, founded in 2002, began its space-tourism business by flying the first all-civilian crew into space in October.

Reuters contributed to this report

The billionaire space race: how does each venture compare?

The billionaire space race: how does each venture compare?
Updated: October 13, 2021, 4:56 AM