‘Star Trek’ Shatner star linked to space with Blue Origin

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Van Horn (United States) (AFP)

“Star Trek” actor William Shatner is set to boldly go where no 90-year-old man has gone before when he takes to space on Wednesday for Blue Origin’s second crewed mission .

The Canadian – who will forever be known to the sci-fi show’s legion of “Trekkies” as Captain James Tiberius Kirk – will take off from the West Texas base at 9 a.m. (2 p.m. GMT ), after a day of delay due to the high winds.

He will be joined on the New Shepard rocket by Audrey Powers, executive of Blue Origin, Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of the clinical research platform Medidata Solutions.

The crew’s approximately 11-minute jump past the Karman Line – 100 kilometers in the air, just beyond Earth’s atmosphere – and back down with a parachute landing in the desert is a replay of the Blue’s first human flight in July.

The trip, which included Amazon business owner Jeff Bezos, was seen as a watershed moment for the nascent space tourism industry.

This time around, almost all the attention will be focused on Shatner, who at 90 will become the oldest astronaut of all time, despite an appearance that suggests a man who could be decades younger.

The intergalactic voyages of the spacecraft “Star Trek” Enterprise, commanded by Captain Kirk, helped focus US attention on the stars as the US space program was in its infancy.

“Captain Kirk (…) represents ‘the last frontier’ perhaps more than anyone for two different generations, in the United States and around the world,” the writer and historian of ‘Trek’ told AFP. Marc Cushman.

Shatner, who is also known for his roles as lawyer Denny Crane on “Boston Legal,” among others, has spoken in the past about having a difficult relationship with “Star Trek” and its fan culture.

But in recent years, the actor has looked at the fame brought by his most famous role.

“Looks like there’s a lot of curiosity in this fictional character, Captain Kirk,” he said in a video posted by Blue Origin on Tuesday. “Let’s go with him and enjoy the ride. “

The Blue Origin crewed flight Cléa PÉCULIER AFP

– Space tourism is heating up –

For Blue Origin, a second mission in less than three months represents a new step forward in an attempt to establish itself as the benchmark player in space tourism.

Boshuizen and Vries will bring the company’s total paying customers to three, although pricing has not been disclosed.

Blue Origin is trying to establish itself as the benchmark player in space tourism as the competition rages on
Blue Origin is trying to establish itself as the benchmark player in space tourism as the competition rages on Patrick T. FALLON AFP

The competition is raging.

Virgin Galactic, which offers a similar experience of a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth from the cosmos, launched its founder Richard Branson in July, days before Bezos.

And in September, SpaceX sent four private citizens on a three-day trip across the planet – a far more ambitious endeavor, but also likely a lot more expensive.

“We’re only at the beginning – but how miraculous that start is, how amazing it is to be a part of this start,” Shatner said in his video post.

For many space enthusiasts, Shatner’s Journey is an apt coda for a pop culture phenomenon that has inspired generations of astronauts, scientists, and engineers.

The crew, (from right) Chris Boshuizen, Canadian actor William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries, will leap just beyond Earth's atmosphere
The crew, (from right) Chris Boshuizen, Canadian actor William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries, will leap just beyond Earth’s atmosphere – ORIGIN BLUE / AFP

The show has a long-standing association with NASA, whose scientists received the first scripts to verify their accuracy, according to Cushman, the writer.

“These scientists, along with almost everyone in these space agencies, were avid Star Trek observers, and they understood that the popularity of the series has helped to generate growing interest and funding for the space program,” did he declare.

Another mega-fan: Bezos himself.

Amazon’s Alexa system was said to have been inspired by Star Trek’s conversational computer, and Bezos – wearing thick makeup sporting an egg-shaped head – appeared in an appearance in the 2016 film “Star Trek Beyond.”


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