On Wednesday, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket launched for the sixth time this year, this time with Canadian actor, William Shatner aboard the company’s second crewed mission.
This New Shepard mission, codenamed NS-18, was boarded by Shatner, who is best known for having played Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Audrey Powers, vice president of New Shepard Mission & Flight Operations; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and current partner at venture capital firm DCVC; and Glen de Vries, co-founder of the clinical trial software company Medidata Solutions were also aboard the flight.
This is coming three months after Blue Origin’s founder, Jeff Bezos launched its maiden trip to space with three others onboard including 82-year-old Wally Funk.
What you should know
The rocket took off from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas, reaching a height of more than 340,000 feet before safely returning to Earth a few minutes later. The launch took roughly 11 minutes from start to finish. Weightlessness lasted around three minutes for the crew.
At the age of 90, William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek” television series, has become the oldest person to go into space. Wally Funk, an aerospace pioneer, held the previous record when she flew on Blue Origin’s first crewed launch in July at the age of 82.
New Shepard’s capsule accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound to pass beyond the United States’ 80-kilometer (50-mile) space barrier. The capsule is flown autonomously, with no human pilot, and lands in the Texas desert beneath a set of parachutes.
William Shatner said “Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everyone needs to see. It was unbelievable.”
Blue Origin has sold over $100 million worth of tickets to future passengers according to CNBC.
Bezos’ Blue Origin is competing in the suborbital tourism market with Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who also completed a successful space launch this year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also a player in the commercial space travel business.