Star Trek’s William Shatner boldly goes to the edge of space

It’s not quite the final frontier, but it’s amassed galactic interest. William Shatner, who captained the fictional starship Enterprise in the Star Trek series, on Wednesday became the oldest man to visit space after hitching a ride aboard a rocket launched by billionaire Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin.

Along with three other passengers, 90-year-old Shatner blasted off from Launch Site One, the company’s launch facility in western Texas, at 9.32am local time. 

Also on board the automated, suborbital flight were former Nasa engineer Chris Boshuizen, healthcare entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers. 

Lasting just 11 minutes, the flight reached an altitude of 100 kilometres, allowing passengers to experience weightlessness for about three minutes

Ahead of the launch, Shatner who played Captain James T Kirk for 40 years, joked that the toughest part of the flight would probably be climbing into his seat.

Wednesday’s lift-off had been scheduled for 12 October, but was pushed back by a day due to forecasted high winds. 

It comes three months after Blue Origin successfully sent its first crewed rocket to orbit, with Bezos himself on board, alongside his brother and two others.

Nine days before that British billionaire Richard Branson flew to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity. 

Alongside Elon Musk of SpaceX, the three tycoons are in a space race to offer tourist trips for fare-paying passengers.

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