Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is launching William Shatner on October tourist spaceflight
Science fiction will soon become reality, as William Shatner is scheduled to launch on the next crewed spaceflight of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
The company plans to fly the Canadian actor, who famously played Capt. 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. Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers, is joining the flight, with the crew of four rounded out by previously announced members Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries.
Blue Origin will host a live webcast of the mission, called NS-18, with coverage set to begin at 8 a.m. ET on Oct. 12.
Shatner’s trip would be the second human spaceflight for Blue Origin’s tourism and research rocket New Shepard, which successfully launched Bezos, founder and executive chairman of Amazon, 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.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos pose for a picture near the booster after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Mr. Bezos and the crew were the first human spaceflight for the company.Joe Raedle | Getty Images
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 (about 50 miles) altitude, with the spacecraft and crew floating in microgravity for a couple of minutes before returning to land under a set of parachutes.
The New Shepard Blue Origin rocket lifts-off from the launch pad carrying Jeff Bezos along with his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk prepare to launch on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.Joe Raedle | Getty Images
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 Friday, including the departure of the New Shepard program’s senior vice president in August.