Beam me up, Bezos!
Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin will launch William Shatner — the Canadian actor who famously played Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek” TV series — into space on Oct. 12, the company announced Monday.
The sci-fi actor, 90, will fly as one of the passengers on the company’s New Shepard rocket.
Shatner will be the oldest person ever to travel to space after the roughly 10-minute ride — even topping the record set by Wally Funk 82, earlier this year on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight.
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner said Monday in a statement.
Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations is also joining the flight, alongside previously announced crew members Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries.
“Star Trek” actor William Shatner will be rocketed into space using Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin on October 12, 2021. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
“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 said.
The Oct. 12 flight will mark Blue Origin’s second crewed flight with its New Shepard rocket.
Bezos, 57, first went up to space in July alongside his brother, Mark Bezos; pioneering pilot Funk; and rich Dutch student Oliver Daemen, then 18 and the youngest person to go to space.
William Shatner will be the oldest person to ever go into space, the record was previously held by Wally Funk. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The foursome reached heights of 66.5 miles above Earth on New Shepard and spent about 10 minutes off the ground.
“I … want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all this,” Bezos told reporters after returning from the trip. “So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there, and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart, very much. It’s very appreciated.”
A Blue Origin flight lasts a little over 10 minutes. The rocket soars just past the official US boundary of space and gives the crew a couple of minutes in microgravity before returning to Earth, touching down with the help of parachutes.
According to Jeff Bezos, the crew will experience about 10 minutes worth of microgravity before returning to land. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
The company’s announcement of its launch next week comes as it faces mounting problems. The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing safety concerns raised last week by a group of 21 current and former employees in an anonymous essay.
The letter alleged a toxic and sexist environment at Blue Origin and said that the majority of signatories would not feel safe riding the company’s rockets to space.
“Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far,” one anonymous engineer who signed on to the letter is quoted as saying. The letter adds that “teams are stretched beyond reasonable limits.”
In response, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith did not admit any wrongdoing or apologize in an email to employees, instead assuring employees that the rocket-maker has “no tolerance for discrimination or harassment.”