William Shatner will live up to his role as Captain Kirk and boldly go to the edge of space, but it won't be on the U.S.S. Enterprise; instead, the actor will hitch a ride on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket.
Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin announced Monday that the 90-year-old would be part of the next crewed flight of the reusable rocket, along with Blue Origin's Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers and two other space tourists.
"I've heard about space for a long time now. I'm taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle," Shatner said in a statement released by Blue Origin.
Shatner's upcoming flight was first reported by multiple news outlets last week but with Blue Origin's official announcement Shatner took to social media to share the news.
"Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a 'rocket man!' he wrote on Twitter.
Powers is a long-time Blue Origin manager and former NASA flight controller for the International Space Station. According to her company biography, she worked at the space agency for ten years before becoming a lawyer.
"I have wanted to fly to space since birth," Powers said in a pre-recorded video.
The first half of the Oct. 12 crew was announced last week.
Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, of Australia, and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries will fly in the other two seats.
Audrey Powers has been at Blue Origin since 2013 and no one is more familiar with the #NewShepard vehicle and its operations. Audrey had 2000 hours on console for the ISS, is a pilot, engineer, sponsor of the New Mercury resource group at Blue, and Chair of @csf_spaceflight. pic.twitter.com/f3J9fBHCI5— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 4, 2021
The upcoming mission from Blue Origin's launch facility in Van Horn, Texas, will mark the second for the company with humans on board. The July 20 flight set three Genius World Records when billionaire Bezos launched along with his brother, Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, 88, and the company's first paying customer, Oliver Daeman, 18.
Funk was among a small group of women in the 1960s known as the Mercury 13 who passed medical tests similar to the first American astronauts and had waited for decades to fly to space. At 88, she became the oldest person to reach space, but now Shatner is set to take that record.
Daeman, the son of a private equity firm founder, became the youngest person to go to space. Jeff and Mark Bezos set the third Genius World Record for becoming the first siblings in space.
Blue Origin has not disclosed how much Daeman's father paid for his seat or how much the next three customers have forked over for minutes of weightlessness.
Earlier this year, the company opened up an auction for the first paid seat on New Shepard. The bidding war ended with one unnamed person paying $28 million for the 10-minute trip, but the wealthy passenger was unable to go on the July 20 flight due to a scheduling conflict.
Blue Origin officials said it has been in communication with the top bidders to secure more paid flights.
For a New Shepard launch, the rocket lifts off from the pad; minutes later, the capsule separates, sending its passengers and payloads onward. The spacecraft will surpass the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Kármán line about 62 miles above the planet.
The passengers can then look out the crew capsule's six large windows and float about the cabin for several minutes before buckling back in for a parachute-aided landing. Both the capsule and the rocket booster land about 2 miles from the launch site in Texas and will be re-flown.
The Oct. 12 liftoff will mark the 18th flight overall for New Shepard. The company is targeting 8:30 a.m. CDT for launch.