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William Shatner, Television Captain Kirk, explodes in space | national news

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) – Hollywood Captain Kirk William Shatner, 90, exploded into space on Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the last frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

The “Star Trek” actor and three other passengers rushed to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) above the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, and then were parachuted into full gear. safety on Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an elated Shatner told Bezos after exiting the hatch, the words escaping him in a soliloquy almost as long as the flight. “I hope I never get over it. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.

He said that going from the blue sky to the total darkness of space was a moving experience: “In an instant you’re like, ‘Whoa, this is death.’ This is what I saw.

Shatner has become the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record – set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spacecraft in July – of eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the courageous and principled commander of the Enterprise spacecraft boldly go where no American television star has gone before. The internet has gone wild, with Trekkies citing Kirk’s favorite lines, including: “Risk: Risk is our business. That’s what this spaceship is for.

“It’s a pinching moment for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go into space,” said Jacki Cortese, Blue Origin launch commentator, before take off. She said that she, like so many others, was drawn to space by shows like “Star Trek”.

NASA sent their best wishes ahead of the flight, tweeting, “You are and always will be our friend. “

The flight brought invaluable star power to Bezos’ space tourism business, given its appeal to baby boomers, celebrity watchers, and space enthusiasts. Shatner starred in the original “Star Trek” television from 1966 to 1969, when the United States was running for the moon, and subsequently appeared in a series of “Star Trek” films.

Bezos is a big fan of “Star Trek” – the founder of Amazon made an appearance as an alien in one of the last films – and Shatner went up for free as a guest.

To do Bezos a favor, Shatner took “Star Trek” tricorders and communicators – sort of iPhones from the future – into space that Bezos made when he was a 9-year-old Trekkie. Bezos said his mother saved them for 48 years.

Bezos himself led the four crew members to the launch pad, accompanied them to the above ground platform, and closed the hatch after they boarded the the 60-foot rocket. He was there to greet them when the capsule returned to Earth under its shining blue and red parachutes.

“Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth! ”Said a jubilant Bezos as he opened the hatch of the New Shepard capsule, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.

Shatner and the others wore fitted, flame-retardant royal blue flight suits, not exactly the tight, futuristic ’60s V-necks the Enterprise crew had on TV.

The actor said he was struck by the vulnerability of Earth and the relative brightness of its atmosphere.

“Everyone in the world has to do it. Everyone needs to see, ”he said. “Seeing the color blue go by, and now you look in the dark, that’s the thing. The blue blanket, this sheath, this blanket, this blue comforter that we have around, we say, ‘Oh, that’s the blue sky.’ And then suddenly you go through it all, and you look in the dark, in the dark ugliness. “

Shatner said the return to Earth was more shaking than his training had led him to expect and made him wonder if he was going to come back alive.

“Everything is much more powerful,” he said. “Bang, that knocking thing. It wasn’t like the simulator at all. … Will I be able to survive the G-forces?”

Passengers are subjected to nearly 6 G, or six times the force of Earth’s gravity, when the capsule descends. Blue Origin said Shatner and the rest of the crew met all medical and physical requirements, including the ability to climb and descend several flights of stairs to the launch tower.

Shatner going to space is “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Joseph Barra, a bartender who helped organize the launch week festivities. “William Shatner sets the bar high for what a 90 year old man can do.”

The flight comes as the space tourism industry finally takes off, with passengers aboard ships built and operated by some of the world’s richest men.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson went to space in his own rocket in July, followed by Bezos nine days later on Blue Origin’s first flight with a crew. Elon Musk’s SpaceX made its first private trip in mid-September, but without Musk on board.

Last week, the Russians sent an actor and a director to the International Space Station for a filmmaking project.

Blue Origin said it is planning one more passenger flight this year and several more in 2022. Looking like the human and idealistic Captain Kirk himself, the company said its goal was to “democratize space.”

Shatner has attached himself alongside Audrey Powers, vice president of Blue Origin and former space station flight controller for NASA, and two paying clients: Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer, and Glen of Vries from a 3D software company. Blue Origin would not disclose the cost of its tickets.

The flight brought the number of humans who flew into space to 597.

“Today’s launch is a testament to the power of the imagination, and we must not lose sight of that power,” University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank said in an email.

“William Shatner may be” just an actor “, but Captain James T. Kirk represents a collective dream of a hopeful future in space that” Star Trek “and science fiction in general have us all given, ”Frank continued. “Bezos gave Shatner a seat on his rocket because, like millions of others, he fell in love with ‘Star Trek’ and his vision of an unlimited frontier for humanity.”

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Associated Press video reporter Cody Jackson contributed to this story.


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