Contact Us

Star Trek's Captain Kirk returns to Earth after brief space mission

The flight took the civilian crew some 106 kilometres above the Earth, past the Karman Line space boundary. This made the 90-year-old Canadian actor the oldest person ever to reach space.

Published October 13,2021

"Star Trek" icon William Shatner became the oldest person to reach space on Wednesday.

The flight by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin firm took a crew of four civilians including the 90-year-old Canadian actor some 106 kilometres above the Earth, past the Karman Line space boundary.

The passengers experienced several minutes of weightlessness before parachutes were deployed above the New Shepard capsule and the craft floated back down to Earth, about 11 minutes after take-off.

It was the second human flight by the Blue Origin space tourism company, one of three firms that recently started offering commercial trips to the edge of space for paying customers.

While clearly a PR coup for Bezos, it is not clear whether Shatner was invited on to the craft for free, or whether he paid the considerable price tag.

In a tweet timed to appear during his flight, Shatner posted a picture of the Blue Origin feather logo on top of the Star Trek logo, and wrote of how he felt during his life that a "great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

His trip had led to a slew of internet memes including mock-ups of the Blue Origin crew in Star Trek costumes, and a promise by Shatner that he would use the space experience for his next music album.

"I want to write about my love of Earth," he said before the flight, "this gem, this warm, loving, nourishing planet."

Shatner was joined on the all-civilian flight by Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers and two other crew mates, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen and medical data businessman Glen de Vries.

Unlike on Kirk's Enterprise, none of the crew had the con as the whole flight was piloted remotely.

The New Shepard craft launched at 1450 GMT from Van Horn, Texas. It had been put back by one day due to the possibility of strong winds disrupting the launch on Tuesday.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Bezos was at the landing site to greet the new "astronauts".

Bezos himself was a passenger on the inaugural Blue Origin human flight in July.

New Shepard takes its passengers considerably higher than one of Bezos' space tourism competitors, Virgin Galactic, led by Richard Branson.

Another billionaire, Tesla boss Elon Musk, has also entered the space tourism business with a craft that does a whole orbit of the Earth.