‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News

Shatner emerged gingerly from the Blue Origin capsule in the desert silence, appearing reflective as the others celebrated by popping champagne bottles

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VAN HORN — Actor William Shatner soared aboard a Blue Origin rocketship on a suborbital trip and landed in the Texas desert on Wednesday to become at age 90 the oldest person ever in space – an experience he called profound.

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Shatner and a crew of three other passengers lifted off at 10:49 a.m. Eastern time from a launch site in West Texas owned and operated by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company. The launch was the venture’s second human spaceflight mission, and it came three months after Bezos himself flew to space on his company’s New Shepard rocket.

Lasting just more than 10 minutes, the vehicle, named for Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space, climbed to a height of more than 66 miles, four miles beyond what is generally considered the edge of space. Aloft and free-floating above the Earth, the crew took in views of the planet below and the dark skies beyond while they floated in weightlessness for a few minutes.

The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust. Shatner emerged gingerly from the capsule in the desert silence, appearing reflective as the others celebrated by cheering and popping champagne bottles. Bezos was on hand and embraced the oldest person to have visited space.

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“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Bezos as the two chatted for several minutes. “I am so filled with emotion about what just happened.”

Shatner also remarked on the beauty of the blue color of Earth from space.

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
In this still image taken from a Blue Origin video, the New Shepard NS-18 mission capsule lands on October 13, 2021, in the West Texas region, 25 miles (40kms) north of Van Horn. Photo by JOSE ROMERO/AFP via Getty Images
, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
The New Shepard capsule l— with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner aboard — ands on October 13, 2021, from the West Texas region, 25 miles (40kms) north of Van Horn. Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The four astronauts experienced about three to four minutes of weightlessness and traveled above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust.

The four astronauts experienced about three to four minutes of weightlessness and traveled above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth.

The four astronauts, all wearing blue flight suits with the company’s name in white letters on one sleeve, climbed into the crew capsule atop the spacecraft before the launch and strapped in after ascending a set of stairs accompanied by Bezos. Each rang a bell before entering the capsule, with Bezos then closing the hatch. Before that, they rode a vehicle with Bezos at the wheel to the launch pad.

Winds were light and skies were clear for the launch, which was conducted after two delays totaling roughly 45 minutes.

Joining Shatner – who embodied the promise of space travel in the classic 1960s TV series “Star Trek” and seven subsequent films – in the all-civilian crew were former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers https://www.blueorigin.com/news/shatner-powers-announced-ns18.

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, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner rings a bell before boarding Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on mission NS-18 for a suborbital flight near Van Horn, Texas, U.S. in a still image from video October 13, 2021. Blue Origin/Handout via REUTERS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

It marked the second space tourism flight for Blue Origin, billionaire U.S. businessman Jeff Bezos’s company founded two decades ago.

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News

The flight represents another important day for the nascent space tourism industry that, according to UBS, could reach an annual value of $3 billion in a decade. The flight, previously scheduled for Tuesday, was pushed back a day for wind-related reasons https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/winds-delay-blue-origins-space-launch-with-shatner-2021-10-10.

Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight on July 20, with Bezos and three others aboard, flying to the edge of space and back on a trip lasting 10 minutes and 10 seconds. On that flight, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/pioneering-female-aviator-wally-funk-is-americas-new-sweetheart-2021-07-20 at age 82 became the oldest person to reach space. The previous record was set in 1998 when pioneering astronaut John Glenn returned to space as a 77-year-old U.S. senator.

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Bezos, the Amazon.com Inc founder and current executive chairman, formed Blue Origin two decades ago.

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner is driven to the launch pad of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket before mission NS-18 for a suborbital flight near Van Horn, Texas, U.S. in a still image from video October 13, 2021. Photo by Blue Origin/Handout via REUTERS

Shatner , who turned 90 in March, has been acting since the 1950s and remains busy with entertainment projects and fan conventions. He is best known for starring as Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise on the classic 1960s TV series “Star Trek” and seven subsequent films about fictional adventures in outer space.

‘FINAL FRONTIER’

As an actor, Shatner was synonymous with space voyages. During the opening credits of each episode of the series, he called space “the final frontier” and promised “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

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“Beam me up,” Shatner ‘s character would tell the Enterprise’s chief engineer Scotty, played by James Doohan, in a memorable catchphrase when he needed to be transported to the starship.

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner is presented with a commemorative coin, along with former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers, before their suborbital flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard mission NS-18 . Photo by Blue Origin/Handout via REUTERS

Shatner ‘s participation in the flight has helped generate publicity for Blue Origin as it competes against two billionaire-backed rivals – Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc – to attract customers willing to pay large sums to experience spaceflight.

Branson inaugurated his space tourism service on July 11, riding along on a suborbital flight with six others aboard his company’s VSS Unity rocket plane. SpaceX, which has launched numerous astronauts and cargo payloads to the International Space Station for NASA, debuted its space tourism business by flying the first all-civilian crew to reach Earth’s orbit in a three-day mission ending Sept. 18.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration two weeks ago said it will review safety concerns raised by former and current Blue Origin employees who have accused the company of prioritizing speed and cost saving over quality control and adequate staffing.

(Reporting by Mike Blake; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham)

, ‘The most profound experience’: William Shatner, 90, now the world’s oldest space traveler, The Evepost National News
This handout photo released by Blue Origin Media shows the four member Blue Origin crew (from R) Glen de Vries, Audrey Powers, Canadian actor William Shatner and Chris Boshuizen posing at an undisclosed location on October 10, 2021. Photo by BLUE ORIGIN/AFP via Getty Images

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