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William Shatner goes to space on Blue Origin mission

See 'Star Trek' actor William Shatner reach space
01:22

What we covered here

  • “Star Trek” actor William Shatner took an 11-minute trip into space aboard a Blue Origin flight this morning. Shatner rode alongside three other passengers.
  • At age 90, Shatner became the oldest person to have flown in space.
  • After landing back on Earth, Shatner said the flight was “the most profound experience” he could imagine. “I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it,” he said.

Our live coverage has ended. You can read more about Shatner’s flight here.

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Shatner's spaceflight is a "testament to the human imagination," astrophysicist says

William Shatner’s journey into space this morning is much bigger than tourism for the ultra-wealthy but a symbol of the power of the human imagination, Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, said today.

“It’s really a testimony to the human imagination … the power of science fiction and the stories it tells us about a hopeful human future,” Frank told CNN.

Frank went on to suggest that Shatner, an actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek,” served today as symbol for humanity’s extraterrestrial hopes and dreams.

“Who is William Shatner?” Frank asked. “He’s just an actor, but James T. Kirk, he is…a part of our imagination about a vibrant human future that includes space, so I think that’s really the importance of James Kirk being in space today.” 

Frank went on to say he hoped that as mankind continues to fix its gaze again on the heavens, it might become easier to come together to solve problems on Earth.

“You’ll have enough of humanity recognizing that the Earth is the only home,” he said. “You cannot mess with the planet.” 

“We have so much science… and climate denial that the more people can understand that there is this thin, thin veil that separates us from the cold death vacuum of space…Kirk is right…the faster we’re going to be able to take care of the problems we have on Earth,” he said.

Blue Origin capsule flew to nearly 350,000 feet above ground level

People watch as Blue Origin’s New Shepard flies toward space carrying 90-year-old Star Trek actor William Shatner and three other civilians on October 13, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas. 

The Blue Origin flight sent the capsule soaring to 347,539 feet above ground level at its highest point, or apogee, according to a tweet from Blue Origin’s official Twitter account.

“The booster reached an apogee of 347,160 ft [above ground level],” the company added.

The official launch time was 10:49 a.m. ET and that the capsule landed at 10:59 a.m. ET, Blue Origin said. The mission was 10 minutes and 17 seconds with a max velocity of 2,235 mph.

Today’s flight was the “19th consecutive successful crew capsule landing (every flight in the program, including a pad escape test in 2012,)” the company said.

Shatner says every hold before the spaceflight made him more nervous

There were multiple holds before liftoff and each hold made William Shatner more nervous, he told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on the company’s livestream of the spaceflight.

“I’m thinking I’m a little nervous here. Another delay? I’m a little more nervous,” he said.

The simulation experiences to prepare the crew before their spaceflight “doesn’t capture” the real experience. Shatner said the force he felt during his actual flight was still unexpected.

“Am I going to be able to survive the G forces? Am I going to survive it? Then I think, ‘good lord, just getting up the bloody gantry.’ Oh my God, what an experience,” he said.

"Everybody in the world needs to do this," Shatner says after spaceflight

Actor William Shatner, who became the oldest person to travel to space at age 90, told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos that his spaceflight was “unbelievable.”

“To see the blue color whip by you, and now you’re staring into blackness, that’s the thing,” he said.

He called the sky a “comforter of blue that we have around us.”

“You look down, there’s the blue down there and the black up there … there is Mother Earth and comfort, and there is, is there death? I don’t know, but is that death? Is that the way death is? … It was so moving; this experience, it was something unbelievable,” he said while the crew celebrated behind him.

"I’m overwhelmed," Shatner says after 11-minute trip into space 

Actor William Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk on “Star Trek,” described his journey into space as overwhelming and something everybody should experience.

“I’m overwhelmed. I had no idea. We were talking earlier, yeah, it’s going to be different – whatever that phrase is that you have a different view of things, it doesn’t begin to explain, to describe what, for me,” he said upon exiting his Blue Origin flight.

Shatner made history today, becoming the oldest person to travel to space at age 90.

“Maybe you could put it on 3D and wear the goggles to have that experience,” Shatner suggested to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

Blue Origin passengers given flight wings from Jeff Bezos

William Shatner, who at 90 years old just became the oldest person to travel to space, received flight wings from Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos alongside the three other passengers.

The wings are from Blue Origin and are not official wings from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Astronaut Wings Program.

Bezos in July went to the edge of space with the first-ever crewed mission for Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism rocket.

An emotional William Shatner says "I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it."

Back on Earth, William Shatner grew emotional describing his experience launching into space

“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me and life.”

Speaking to Jeff Bezos after the Blue Origin flight, the 90-year-old actor told him: “What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine.” 

He continued: “It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.” 

02:26

William Shatner and crew emerge from Blue Origin capsule after space flight

After William Shatner and the rest of the crew landed back on Earth, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos opened the capsule hatch and said, “Hello astronauts, welcome to Earth!”

Audrey Powers was the first to emerge out of the capsule, followed by Shatner.

Bezos welcomed the crew members back in his Blue Origin space suit along with the members’ families.

William Shatner makes history as oldest person to go to space

Ninety-year-old William Shatner, who gained fame portraying Captain Kirk on the original “Star Trek,” just hitched a ride aboard a suborbital spacecraft that grazed the edge of outer space before parachuting to a landing, making Shatner the oldest person ever to travel to space.

Shatner took off aboard a New Shepard spacecraft — the one developed by Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, and the same vehicle that took Bezos himself to space this summer — just before 10:50 a.m. ET from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.

Bezos, a lifelong “Star Trek” fan, flew Shatner as a comped guest. With him were three crewmates: Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of satellite company Planet Labs, and software executive Glen de Vries, who are both paying customers, and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations.

The trip took just 10 minutes from takeoff to landing. The crew experienced about three minutes of weightlessness at the top of their flight path before their capsule deployed parachutes to slow their descent and touched back down near their Texas launch site.

Shanter’s new record as the oldest person to fly to space one-ups the record set just three months ago by 82-year-old Wally Funk, who was previously denied the opportunity to fly by NASA in the 1960s before she joined Bezos on his July flight.

Capsule carrying crew returns to Earth

The capsule carrying the crew aboard the Blue Origin flight has returned and just landed on Earth.

Actor William Shatner could be heard saying, “That was unlike anything they described.”

Shatner became the oldest person to travel to space.

00:40

Shatner tweeted an Isaac Newton quote as he arrived in space

William Shatner’s official Twitter account sent out a quote from Sir Isaac Newton as the 90-year-old crossed into space.

The tweet read: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore,  diverting myself in now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

See the tweet:

The booster has landed

The New Shepard’s booster has now landed. We’re still waiting for the capsule, carrying the crew, to land.

00:41

Crew will start feeling weightlessness

The crew abroad the Blue Origin flight should now start feeling weightlessness.

They will be allowed to unstrap from their seats and float in the capsule.

The crew capsule soared past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space, and has now reached the top of its flight path.

The booster has now separated

The booster has now separated.

The New Shepard’s booster has detached from the capsule.

The crew capsule will continue vaulting upward as the rocket, which is more aerodynamic, begins to fall back toward Earth. 

The rocket's engine has shut off

The New Shepard rocket has just shut off its engine.

This is normal and part of the process. The crew is still heading into space.

The rocket just experienced "Max Q." Here's what that means.

The New Shepard rocket and capsule just experienced what’s called “Max Q,” an aerospace term that refers to the point during flight at which a vehicle experiences its maximum dynamic pressure.

Put simply: It’s when the rocket is drumming up high speeds at a time when the atmosphere is still pretty thick, putting a lot of pressure on the vehicle.  

Here’s NASA’s explanation

The density of the air decreases with altitude in a complex manner. The velocity of a rocket during launch is constantly increasing with altitude. Therefore, the dynamic pressure on a rocket during launch is initially zero because the velocity is zero. The dynamic pressure increases because of the increasing velocity to some maximum value, called the maximum dynamic pressure, or Max Q. Then the dynamic pressure decreases because of the decreasing density.” 

Shatner and crew lift off in historic space trip

The Blue Origin flight carrying “Star Trek” actor William Shatner, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries has lifted off into space.

The New Shepard NS-18 flight will take 11 minutes and soar past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.

At age 90, Shatner will become the oldest person to have flown in space.

00:46

Blue Origin rocket "go for launch," ground control says

Ground control announced the Blue Origin rocket is “go for launch.”

Lift off is set to happen in about 4 minutes.

Blue Origin tweeted that the “go poll is complete.”

Shatner says we are "just at the beginning" of the future of space travel

In a pre-recorded video for Blue Origin that aired on the live stream as the crew waited for lift off, William Shatner reflected on his imminent journey to space.

Shatner said it’s already been a “life-changing” experience, because of the people he’s been meeting in this adventure. 

He called Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos’ missions to have people live in space and lessen pollution on Earth “noble.” 

“I shall be entranced by the view of space,” he predicted in the video. “I want to look at that orb and appreciate its beauty and tenacity.” 

“I’m going up into space. I don’t know how many people can say that,” Shatner said. 

At 90 years old, Shatner would become the oldest person to go to space.

“Let’s … enjoy the ride,” Captain Kirk said.

The Blue Origin launch hold has been lifted

The latest hold has been released. The countdown is back underway and the rocket is expected to launch in just about 12 minutes.

Wally Funk and other space tourists from Blue Origin's first flight send messages for William Shatner and crew

Blue Origin’s first flight crew, that included Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk, sent their messages to actor William Shatner and his crew ahead of their spaceflight.

Their messages, that were relayed by the mission control room were as follows:

From Wally Funk:

“I hope this flight will be the most fantastic experience of your life as it was mine. Take time to enjoy every aspect of this journey from liftoff to touchdown. … Together, let’s cross new boundaries and set new records. I will be watching your liftoff with great enthusiasm and sending my best wishes. Godspeed, Audrey, Bill, Glen and Chris. Much love, Wally.”

From Mark Bezos:

“You lucky bastards. It was only 10 weeks ago I was sitting where you are watching the countdown clock full of anticipation and excitement, eager to feel the rumble of liftoff and the majesty of weightlessness. The depth of my desire to fly again is hard to express. So allow me to quote from the classic of the great American song book “Mr. Spaceman,” with lyrics by William Shatner. 

“Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along. I won’t do anything wrong. Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride? Godspeed ‘New Shepard,’ I can’t wait to hear your stories. Mark.”

From Oliver Daemen:

“Dear NS-18 travelers, you have probably been playing this moment over and over in thoughts, and also quite often in real life in the case of Mr. Shatner. But now the moment is there — the moment you’re really going to space, and I can assure you it will be better than your best imagination. No day passes by that we don’t look back on this journey without having a smile from ear to ear. Have a safe flight and enjoy. Greetings from your youngest predecessor, Oliver Daeman.”

Blue Origin launch is on hold again

With 15 minutes to go, the launch is on hold again.

Blue Origin tweeted that final checks on the rocket are being performed.

Earlier this morning, the launch went into a brief hold as the crew worked on “vehicle readiness.”

The passengers are now strapped in and ready to go

With about 15 minutes to go until lift off, the four passengers on board the New Shepard vehicle are strapped into their seats.

Actor William Shatner is among the four on board, alongside Audrey Powers, who is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries.

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos closed the door to the capsule after the travelers loaded in.

At age 90, Shatner will become the oldest person to have flown in space.

The rocket is about to lift off. Here are key things to know about William Shatner's space flight.

William Shatner — who gained international fame playing the iconic role of Captain Kirk on “Star Trek” — will make a very real trek to outer space soon, if only for a brief suborbital joyride aboard a New Shepard rocket.

It’s the same one that took Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos to space this summer.

A joyride aboard a Starfleet spaceship, it will not be. Rather, the group will strap themselves inside a capsule that sits atop BlueOrigin’s 60-foot-tall New Shepard rocket, which will soar up to about three times the speed of sound and reach more than 62 miles high before coming immediately back down to Earth. From beginning to end, the trip will take about 10 minutes.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Is it safe?

  • Blue Origin has conducted more than a dozen uncrewed test flights of New Shepard, and Bezos decided to put himself on the first-ever crewed flight in July — in part to demonstrate that he trusts his own life with Blue Origin’s technology.
  • This Blue Origin flight will make Shatner the oldest person ever to travel to space, beating the record set just a few months ago by 82-year-old Wally Funk, who was a former astronaut trainee but was previously denied the opportunity to fly before she joined Bezos on the July flight of New Shepard.
  • Blue Origin has billed New Shepard as a spacecraft that virtually anyone can fly on with only a few days of light training. Though the vehicle will put the passengers through intense G-forces as it blasts upward and returns back toward Earth, the ride won’t be nearly as intense as orbital flights like the one that SpaceX recently operated for four space tourists, which requires far faster speeds and a nail-biting reentry process.

What will happen?

  • When most people think about spaceflight, they think about an astronaut circling the Earth, floating in space, for at least a few days. 
  • That is not what the New Shepard passengers will be doing. In fact, if all goes well it should look very similar to Bezos’ flight back in July.
  • They’ll be going up and coming right back down, and they’ll be doing it in less time, about 10 minutes, than it takes most people to get to work.
  • Visually, Blue Origin’s livestream will show the rocket and capsule sitting on a launch pad at Blue Origin’s private facilities in rural Texas — near Van Horn, which is about 120 miles east of El Paso.
  • New Shepard’s suborbital fights hit about three times the speed of sound — roughly 2,300 miles per hour — and fly directly upward until the rocket expends most of its fuel. The crew capsule will then separate from the rocket at the top of the trajectory and briefly continue upward before the capsule almost hovers at the top of its flight path, giving the passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. It works sort of like an extended version of the weightlessness you experience when you reach the peak of a roller coaster hill, just before gravity brings your cart — or, in this case, your space capsule — screaming back down toward the ground.

Read the full article here.

Blue Origin passengers ring a bell before boarding

As they walked to the Blue Origin spacecraft, each member of the crew rang a hanging silver bell.

The crew walked through a tunnel on the way to the launch capsule, which says above it “light this candle.”

00:30

The crew is headed to the launch tower now 

The Blue Origin crew is now making their way to the launch pad.

A tweet from Blue Origin says, “We are go for #NS18 astronaut load.”

00:54

Weather for William Shatner's spaceflight is "very good," CNN meteorologist says

While weather conditions delayed actor William Shatner’s spaceflight by a day, today seems to be a good day to fly, according to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers says.

“Winds right now are nice and light. Temperatures are good. Sunshine everywhere,” he added.