He spent his career pretending to live in space. And now, Canadian actor and Star Trek star William Shatner, who turned 90 in March, will get to experience it in real life aboard the Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin flight.
Set to take off on October 12, Shatner will be one of four crew members, which includes Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries.
The mission, dubbed NS-18, will be the second human spaceflight for Blue Origin’s tourism and research rocket New Shepard, which successfully launched Bezos to space in July.
"I've heard about space for a long time now," Shatner said. "I'm taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle."
Shatner famously played Captain James T Kirk in the Star Trek series in the 1960s and in a number of movie versions, starting with 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He's also a published author, director, producer and singer.
The Blue Origin trip will last about 10 minutes from lift-off to landing. After climbing to an altitude of more than 107 kilometres, the rocket will separate from the main booster as crew members experience several minutes of weightlessness before the capsule touches down gently under parachutes.
The New Shepard rocket is designed to take its passengers on a suborbital flight past the Karman line – an internationally recognised boundary for space that is 100 kilometres above the Earth.
Shatner will become the oldest person to have flown in space, edging out aviation pioneer Wally Funk, 82, who was aboard the first flight with Bezos.
Funk, who was part of a trailblazing, privately-backed effort to put a woman in space in the 1960s but never got to go, had been personally asked to join the flight by Bezos.
Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, years before his fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson founded their rival space companies, has long dreamt of going to space. Branson, however, beat him to space when his VSS Unity made its first flight a few weeks before Bezos's.