Science

William Shatner and three others are set to launch 62 miles above Earth on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner, 90, is one-step closer to earning the the title of oldest person in space – he and three others are set to launch 62 miles above Earth’s surface in less than two hours.

The crew, which also includes Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, are launching aboard Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket at 10am ET from the company’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas

The giant rocket rolled out to the launch pad in the early morning hours and was erected on the launch pad where it sits waiting patiently to shoot off into space. 

It will only take three minutes for NS18 to hit the 62-mile mark- passing the ‘Karman line’ that is the edge of space- after New Shepard leaves the launch pad. 

The crew started their day early with a trip to the training center before the sun rose, allowing them to go over all the details of today’s flight.

All four members received a special challenge coin shortly after arriving at the training center, which represents belonging and the achievement of something great and is only awarded to astronauts who passed training and are set to fly on a spacecraft. 

This is the second crewed flight conducted by the Jeff Bezos-owned company – the first took off on July 20 and Bezos himself was along for the ride.

However, Wednesday’s mission gained just as much attention as Shatner, who is famed for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the hit show ‘Star Trek,’ made a dream come true for millions who were inspired by the sci-fi television show.

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William Shatner (center), 90, is one-step close to earning the the title of oldest person in space – he and three others are set to launch 62 miles above Earth’s surface in less than two hours

The crew, which also includes Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, are launching aboard Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket at 10am ET from the company's Launch Site One  in Van Horn, Texas

The crew, which also includes Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, are launching aboard Blue Origin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket at 10am ET from the company’s Launch Site One  in Van Horn, Texas

It will only take three minutes for the team to hit the 62-mile mark- passing the 'Karman line' that is the edge of space- after New Shepard leaves the launch pad. Pictured is New Shepard on the launch pad ahead of the launch

The giant rocket rolled out to the launch pad in the early morning hours and was erected on the launch pad where it sits waiting patiently to shoot off into space

All four members received a special challenge coin shortly after arriving at the training center, which represents belonging and the achievement of something great and is only awarded to astronauts who passed training and are set to fly on a spacecraft

All four members received a special challenge coin shortly after arriving at the training center, which represents belonging and the achievement of something great and is only awarded to astronauts who passed training and are set to fly on a spacecraft

The rocket booster segment will separate from the crew capsule two minutes and 45 seconds into the flight, to touch down on a pad around two miles from the launch site some seven minutes after launch. 

Following the sub-orbital flight, the capsule will parachute to a landing in the Texas desert, some 10 to 12 minutes after they first blasted off. 

‘Having played the role of Captain Kirk everybody assigns the knowledge that a futuristic astronaut would have, but I’ve always been consumed with curiosity and it is the adventure I feel so good doing,’ Shatner said in a video shared by Blue Origin Tuesday.

The three other individuals strapped inside the capsule also have a strong connection with space.

Powers, who is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, has spent years watching missions soar into space and can now check a spaceflight off her bucket list. 

‘I think I reached a certain age when I had given up on the idea that I would go to space,’ she said in a video clip.

This is the second crewed flight conducted by the Jeff Bezos-owned company – the first took off on July 20 and Bezos himself was along for the ride 

Pictured is the crew on their last day of training Tuesday. They are now gearing up to climb the launch tower and strap in the Blue Origin capsule to launch into space

Pictured is the crew on their last day of training Tuesday. They are now gearing up to climb the launch tower and strap in the Blue Origin capsule to launch into space

‘In my role in mission flight operations, we were waiting to hear who the fourth astronaut was.’

Powers received a phone call from Michael Edmonds, a colleague, and told her: ‘On behalf of Jeff and the senior leadership we’d like you to represent team Blue and fly as the fourth astronaut.’

Blue Origin has not confirmed if Powers and Shatner paid for a seat, or the experience was gifted, but it is sure the other two passengers did.

Boshuizen, who has an estimated net worth approaching $30 million, was also the Space Mission Architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center between 2008 and 2012.

Cookies in the shape of the logos of Blue Origin (bottom) and "Star Trek's" Star Fleet Command are set on a table for the crew before the New Shepard NS-18 launches at 10am ET

Cookies in the shape of the logos of Blue Origin (bottom) and “Star Trek’s” Star Fleet Command are set on a table for the crew before the New Shepard NS-18 launches at 10am ET

Pictured is the patch all four crew members are wearing for the mission

Pictured is the patch all four crew members are wearing for the mission

During this time he invented the Phonesat, which is a satellite built from a smartphone.

I’ve worked in space industry my entire life and I am excited the door is finally opening,’ Boshuizen said during a recent interview with Good Morning America (GMA).

‘I think we will look back at this day 50 years from now and go this was the year the human race started going to space.’

de Vries, co-founder of Medidata, said the spot on the New Shepard is a ‘dream come true.’

‘This is how innovation happens,’ he told GMA’s host TJ Holmes.

‘I lived in it healthcare and life sciences when you think about an industry being created and the opportunity for us to fuel that industry, as Chris was saying this is the beginning of a new time for space.

‘We are on the beginning of a curve that is just going to blast off.’  

Bezos took to Instagram to announce the paper toys would be going up on the next rocket launch, adding he 'made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends.

His mother (pictured) saved them for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding 'please don't judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!'.

Bezos took to Instagram to announce the paper toys would be going up on the next rocket launch, adding he ‘made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends. His mother saved them for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding ‘please don’t judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!’

Bezos is sending several pieces of Star Trek artwork and ‘home-made toys’, that he created when he was nine, into space with actor William Shatner on the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket.

Bezos took to Instagram to announce the paper toys would be going up on the next rocket launch, adding he ‘made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends.’

His mother saved them for 48 years and dug them out a week before the launch, prompting Bezos to ask Shatner to take them with him into space, adding ‘please don’t judge me for the artwork. Thank you, Bill!’

One Tuesday, lead flight director, Nick Patrick, said that the crew completed their first day of training on Sunday. They also spent yesterday doing launch training.

‘The training itself was designed to do three things for our astronauts,’ Patrick said during a video interview.

‘The first thing is it’s designed to train them on the safety systems that we have onboard the crew capsule and the expected responses from the crew if we were to have an emergency.’

The crew is launching from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas

The crew is launching from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in Van Horn, Texas

Shatner shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966

Shatner shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966

The second is to prepare the crew for the unexpected aspects of spaceflight such as strange noises, bumps and accelerations, Patrick explained.

The third part of training teaches the crew how to behave in zero-gravity inside the cabin without colliding with their flight mates, he continued.

‘I am very confident that we will learn tomorrow that this training has gone well for these four astronauts and we will be ready to launch them,’ said Patrick.

The four individuals are scheduled to pile inside a truck to the launch tower 45 minutes before lift-off.

The crew will then climb the tower, ring a bell that hangs at one end of the crossing and strap into the fully autonomous 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket.

The will blast off from a base in the west Texas town of Van Horn on a journey to the edge of space.

‘I’m going to see the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of our Earth and how fragile it is compared to the forces at work in the universe,’ Shatner told NBC’s ‘Today’ program.

Shatner shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966.

This was four years after Alan Shephard – who the rocket he’ll travel in is named after – became the first American in space, and three years before Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon.

‘I plan to be looking out the window with my nose pressed against the window. The only thing I don’t want to see is a little gremlin looking back at me,’ Shatner said referring to his role on Twilight Zone’s ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet.’ 


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