Actor William Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” successfully flew into space Wednesday morning at the age of 90.
Shatner left Earth at around 11 a.m. aboard the New Shepard rocket manufactured by Blue Origin, an aerospace company owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who himself flew into space in July. The flight, which took off from the Blue Origin launch site near Van Horn, Texas, lasted for a little over ten minutes and reached a height of 62 miles, just past the Karman Line, which is the internationally-recognized boundary of space.
“I hope I never recover from this,” Shatner said, clearly emotional as he stood outside the capsule after it landed. “I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me.”
Shatner compared the experience to dying, and said the moment made him contemplate his own mortality.
“It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death,” he said. “This comforter of blue that we have around us and then you suddenly shoot by it and you’re looking into blackness.”
The New Shepard rocket used a detachable booster to pilot itself back to Earth, and a crew capsule separated from the booster just less than three minutes into the flight.
“Everybody in the world needs to do this… It was unbelievable.”
Star Trek actor William Shatner became emotional when describing his experience of flying to the edge of space in the #BlueOrigin rocket.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 13, 2021
At age 90, Shatner is the oldest person to ever travel to space, edging out 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk who flew with Bezos into space in July. Bezos himself chauffeured the crew members to the New Shepard rocket. (RELATED: The Billionaire Space Race: A Competition Between The World’s Richest Men Is Resurrecting An Industry)
LAUNCH! New Shepard NS-18 launches on a suborbital flight with a crew of four, including William Shatner. pic.twitter.com/05PMTCIr0X
— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) October 13, 2021
Shatner was joined by three other passengers, including Audrey Powers, vice president of flight operations at Blue Origin. Also joining the actor were Chris Boshuizen, who co-founded satellite company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, CEO of medical technology company Medidata Solutions.
The rocket is the same as the one that carried Bezos to space in July. Blue Origin uses reusable rocket technology that allows for cheaper and more frequent space flights.
The rocket also contained thousands of postcards from students all over the world provided by Club for the Future, a philanthropic organization founded by Blue Origin. The postcards detail children’s visions of what life in space will be like in the future.
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