“Unbelievable!” – Is the word for both the accomplishment today and exactly what William Shatner couldn’t keep from repeating as he stepped out of the Blue Origin NS-18 pod as he became the oldest person in space at 90. As one of the most famous captains in the history of science-fiction, it was excellent to see Star Trek Captain James Tiberius Kirk himself spend around 10 minutes in space.
Last week at New York Comic-Con he shared his fears with the crowd: “I know!…I’m Captain bloody Kirk and I’m terrified!” which was a bit of a detour from his initial excitement when he first announced his flight on Twitter:
So now I can say something. Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a “rocket man!” ?? https://t.co/B2jFeXrr6L
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) October 4, 2021
While he was initially scheduled to fly out Tuesday, high winds postponed his venture into today’s morning instead. Although pushed back a day, his enthusiasm remained the same: “What’s a day with this extraordinary experience that we’re about to have?” he added.
Today he was part of a 4-person crew that made the voyage past the Kármán line (100 kilometers/62 miles/330,000 feet) above the sea level, offered by Blue Origin as a travel highlight aboard the New Shepard launch vehicle. New Shepard managed to reach a peak altitude around 351,000 feet 4 minutes into the launch, putting them well past the boundary of the Kármán line. This shuttle is different since it lacks a pilot and controls on board, made for a viewing experience with screens mounted for each passenger providing in-flight updates. The pod interior also sports an overhead handrail and large windows for the ability to move around in zero-gravity with a view of Earth. Fortunately for us, there is in-cabin footage of this flight to show how they enjoyed the weightless environment.
This was the voyage of the RSS First Step today. Its mission: encounter Earth from incredible views at apogee pic.twitter.com/Gzsnkv97K9
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 13, 2021
I was delighted to see the tears well up in his eyes as he described his experience of seeing The Pale Blue Dot to Jeff Bezos. After the congratulatory champagne showers, smiles, and hugs he further stresses (in between tears) his impression of the flight: “but to see the blue color go RIGHT by you, and now you are staring into blackness, that’s the thing, the covering of blue.” For once, The Shatner is left without the ability to fully articulate the flood of emotions you see cycle over his face. Clearly a moving experience for the actor, it was inspiring to see him go Where No Man His Age Has Gone Before.
I opted to include his 1978 performance of ‘Rocket Man’ (as expected, cigarette in hand throughout it’s entirety) from The Science Fiction Film Awards that are now more formally known as the Saturn Awards.
In an Instagram post on Bezos’ personal account, he asked Shatner to bring up some home-made Star Trek keepsakes, “I made these tricorders and communicator to play Star Trek with my friends when I was 9 years old, and my incredible mom saved them for 48 years,” He captioned.
It was fantastic to see such an icon in television and science fiction go into the literal border of space when the show he helmed decades ago similarly encroached into TV and culture. A fully safe flight out of my native state of Texas this morning has fired up the conversations of further space exploration and the abilities of human ingenuity. And yes, I did sign myself up for a flight on Blue Origin after the launch.