Star Trek icon William Shatner, 90, will become the oldest person EVER to visit space after Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin confirmed he’ll be aboard its next flight
- Blue Origin confirmed Star Trek actor William Shatner will be a part of the company’s next space tourism flight
- Shatner, 90, will be the oldest person to visit space, surpassing 82-year-old ‘Wally’ Funk
- Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers will also join the crew
- The four-person crew includes Dr Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries
- Liftoff on the New Shepard rocket is currently being targeted for October 12
Blue Origin confirmed on Monday that legendary Star Trek actor William Shatner would be a part of the company’s next space tourism flight later this month, becoming the oldest person to visit space.
At the age of 90, Shatner will surpass Mary Wallace ‘Wally’ Funk as the oldest person to head into space.
The 82-year-old Funk headed into space on Blue Origin’s first human flight on July 20.
Blue Origin confirmed Star Trek actor William Shatner will be a part of the company’s next space tourism flight later this month
Shatner, 90, will be the oldest person to visit space, surpassing 82-year-old ‘Wally’ Funk. Shanter is seen touring the Launch Site One in West Texas with Blue Origin’s Sarah Knights
Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, Audrey Powers, will also join the crew, which includes the previously announced Dr Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries into space on the New Shepard rocket.
‘I’ve heard about space for a long time now,’ said Shatner, known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the sci-fic series, in a statement obtained by DailyMail.com.
‘I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.’
Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers (pictured) will also join the crew
Powers, who joined the company in 2013 and oversees New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing, and ground support infrastructure, said she was ‘excited’ to be a continuing part of history.
‘I’m so proud and humbled to fly on behalf of Team Blue, and I’m excited to continue writing Blue’s human spaceflight history,’ Powers explained.
‘I was part of the amazing effort we assembled for New Shepard’s Human Flight Certification Review, a years-long initiative completed in July 2021.
‘As an engineer and lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we’ve developed.’
Liftoff on the New Shepard rocket is currently being targeted for 8:30 am CDT/ 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas on October 12
Liftoff on the New Shepard rocket is currently being targeted for 8:30 am CDT/ 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas on October 12.
Shatner reportedly will part of a documentary of the 15-minute civilian flight, according to TMZ, which first broke the news of the actor’s involvement last month.
The news comes a few days after 21 current and former Blue Origin employees penned a scathing essay, questioning company founder Jeff Bezos for creating a ‘toxic’ work environment where the company sacrificed safety to work at ‘breakneck speed’ in order to win the billionaire space race.
In an essay published on Thursday, Alexandra Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, along with 20 employees said the priority was to ‘make progress for Jeff’ as he competed with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to make it to space first.
They claimed that the most common question at high-level meetings was: ‘When will Elon or Branson fly?’ and safety concerns were ignored because they would have ‘slowed progress’.
‘Progress at Blue Origin was smooth and steady and slow, until Jeff started getting impatient that Elon and Branson were getting ahead, and then we started feeling this increasing pressure and impatience that would filter down from leadership,’ Abrams told CBS Mornings on Thursday.
Ultimately, Branson flew to the edge of space first, on July 11 – nine days ahead of Bezos. Musk, who leads SpaceX, has not flown into space himself, but his company sent four civilians into space on September 15, flying 360 miles above the Earth.
Pictured from left to right: Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen, Mark Bark Bezos, Jeff Bezos and Wally Funkd. Blue Origin’s first flight occurred on July 20
Blue Origin’s first flight, which occurred on July 20, saw company founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and test pilot, Wally Funk, head into space.
Funk became the oldest person to ever fly to space at 82 years old.
At 18 years old, Daemen became the youngest person, first teenager, and first person born in the 21st century to travel to space.
Oliver’s father, Joes Daemen, who founded private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners, bought the seat aboard the flight for over $20 million at auction.
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.
The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.
Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.
SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman.
His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station.
SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas.
Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane.
The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.
The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.
Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9.
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