August 19, 2022

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With 'Captain Kirk' on board, Blue Origin will return to 'Space, the Last Frontier'

With ‘Captain Kirk’ on board, Blue Origin will return to ‘Space, the Last Frontier’

FILE PHOTO: William Shatner tours the launch tower with Sarah Knights of Blue Origin at the first launch site near Van Horn, Texas, US in an undated still image from the video. Blue Origin / Handout via Reuters

Power Mike Blake

VAN HORN, Texas, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Three months after US billionaire Jeff Bezos flew into space on a rocket built by his company Blue Origin, the spacecraft will take another civilian crew on a sub-orbital flight. Time with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner in the title role.

Shatner, at 90, will become the oldest person ever to venture into space as one of four passengers selected for the flight.

It’s a fitting honor for an actor who has become a mainstay in popular culture for playing Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in the classic 1960s television series and seven subsequent films.

Shatner is now living the mission he described during the opening credits of each episode of the series about exploring “space: the final frontier.”

After a 24-hour delay due to the weather, Shatner and his buddies on Wednesday prepared to tighten their seat belts on the 18.3-meter New Shepard autonomous rocket from Blue Origin that is blasting off from a base in West Town. Van Horn in Texas.

“I will 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” program. “I’m excited and anxious, a little nervous and a little scared, for this new adventure.”

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The launch marks another critical test of Blue Origin’s technology, as the company battles against billionaire-backed rivals like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, to attract customers willing to pay big bucks to live the life. .

Proving safety and lowering ticket costs is critical to tapping into the emerging space tourism market that UBS says could reach an annual value of $3 billion within a decade.

Wednesday’s flight is expected to roughly follow the length and route of Blue Origin’s first business flight on July 20 when Bezos, founder of e-commerce giant Inc, and three other passengers took the short-lived suborbital flight. More than 10 minutes.

The New Shepard spacecraft flew four to 107 kilometers above the ground, giving its occupants a few minutes of weightlessness, before the crew capsule parachuted back safely to the floor of the Texas desert. On that flight, pioneer pilot Wally Funk became the oldest person to reach space at the age of 82.

Among the three other crew members joining Shatner is Chris Buchwezen, a former NASA engineer. Glenn De Vries, Clinical Research Entrepreneur; and Audrey Powers, Vice President and Architect of Blue Origin.

The company did not reveal how much passengers paid or whether any of them were allowed to travel for free, though Shatner said Blue Origin approached him for the trip.

(Reporting by Mike Blake; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)