Star Trek legend William Shatner back on Earth after becoming oldest person to visit space
13 Oct, 2021 15:05 / Updated 8 hours ago
(L) New Shepard NS-18 mission crew member 'Star Trek' actor, William Shatner. © Jose ROMERO / BLUE ORIGIN / AFP; (R) Blue Origin’s New Shepard lifts off from the launch pad on October 13, 2021. © Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP; Video: Ruptly / Blue Origin
Hollywood star William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in popular science-fiction series ‘Star Trek’, became the oldest person in the world to visit space on Wednesday, as a Blue Origin rocket took him over 100km above the Earth.
Shatner, aged 90, overtook 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk to become the oldest person in space. Funk also flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket, accompanied by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, in July.
Blue Origin's rocket New Shepard blasts off carrying Star Trek actor William Shatner, Texas, US, October 13, 2021. © REUTERS / Mike Blake
Before launch on Wednesday, Shatner said, “There is this mystique of being in space and that much closer to the stars and being weightless.”
“I shall be entranced by the view of space,” he added. “I want to look at that orb and appreciate its beauty and its tenacity.”
Blue Origin Vice President Audrey Powers and two businessmen, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata Solutions co-founder Glen de Vries, accompanied Shatner on the trip.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos awards New Shepard NS-18 mission crew member 'Star Trek' actor, William Shatner with a pin after the crew landed on October 13, 2021. © Jose ROMERO / BLUE ORIGIN / AFP
In 2014, NASA honored Shatner with its Distinguished Public Service medal – the most prestigious available for non-government workers – for encouraging young people to study science and “inspiring generations of explorers, including many of the astronauts and engineers who are a part of NASA today.”
The US space agency wished Shatner well for his space flight in a tweet on Wednesday, referencing a line of dialogue from 1982’s ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.’
Former Ohio Senator John Glenn, the previous oldest person in space before Shatner and Funk, retains the age record for someone visiting orbital space. Glenn spent nearly 10 days in orbit in October 1998 as part of a NASA Space Shuttle mission. In comparison, Shatner and Funk's suborbital flights lasted just 10 minutes.
Shatner played ‘Star Trek’ character Captain James T. Kirk in the 1960s original series, and soon became a science-fiction icon. He has continued to work in his old age, and currently hosts a science show ‘I Don’t Understand,’ airing on RT America.