William Shatner goes to space on Blue Origin mission

By Jackie Wattles, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 6:31 PM ET, Wed October 13, 2021
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11:14 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

(Blue Origin)
(Blue Origin)

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.

11:21 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

William Shatner makes history as oldest person to go to space

From CNN's Jackie Wattles

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.

11:22 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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.

11:02 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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:

11:06 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

The booster has landed

(Blue Origin)
(Blue Origin)

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

10:58 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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.

10:53 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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. 

10:53 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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.

10:50 a.m. ET, October 13, 2021

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.”