Science fiction will soon become reality, as William Shatner is scheduled to launch on the next crewed spaceflight of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
Blue Origin plans to fly the Canadian actor, who famously played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek television series, as one of the passengers on the company’s New Shepard rocket.
The launch is planned for Oct. 12, with the crew of four also including Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata cofounder Glen de Vries.
Shatner’s trip would be the second human spaceflight for Blue Origin’s tourism and research rocket New Shepard, which successfully launched Bezos to space in the inaugural crew of four in July.
At 90, Shatner would become the oldest person to fly to space, topping aerospace pioneer Wally Funk — who, at 82, flew on Blue Origin’s first launch.
A trip on Blue Origin’s New Shepard lasts about 10 minutes from liftoff to landing. The reusable rocket carries the capsule up past the U.S. boundary of space at 80 kilometers altitude, with the spacecraft and crew floating in microgravity for a couple of minutes before returning to land under a set of parachutes.
Bezos said after his own spaceflight that the company has sold nearly $100 million worth of tickets to future passengers. He also noted that Blue Origin plans to fly three crewed missions in 2021, with Shatner’s spaceflight representing the second of those three.
TMZ first reported that Shatner was joining the flight.
The company’s announcement to launch the next crewed spaceflight comes as the Federal Aviation Administration reviews safety concerns raised by current and former employees in an essay published last week. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith, in an email obtained by CNBC, responded to the safety allegations by saying the company’s New Shepard program “went through a methodical and pain-staking process to certify” the rocket to carry people, adding that “anyone that claims otherwise is uninformed and simply incorrect.”
Blue Origin is suffering from escalating employee attrition, CNBC reported on Friday, including the departure of the New Shepard program’s senior vice president in August.
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