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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Capt. Kirk’s William Shatner on cusp of blasting into space

by Marcia Dunn and Rick Taber

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — Actor William Shatner counted on Wednesday for his wildest role: a rocket ride into space, courtesy of “Star Trek” fan Jeff Bezos.

Most famous for his role as Captain Kirk, 90-year-old Shatner joined three other passengers for the planned launch from West Texas.

Bezos’ space travel company, Blue Origin, invited Shatner on a brief trip to the edge of the final frontier that would make him the oldest person in space.

This will be Blue Origin’s second passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Bezos used for his launch three months earlier. The journey should last only 10 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers) before the fully automated capsule parachuting back into the desert.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson began the US-based space tourism boom on July 11, riding his own rocketship into space. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk was left behind as his SpaceX company launched its first private flight last month, sending a billionaire, cancer survivor and two ticket winners into orbit.

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And last week, the Russians sent an actor and film director to the International Space Station to film production.

“We are just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is. How extraordinary to be a part of that beginning,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted on the eve of his flight. “It seems that this fictional character, Captain Kirk, very curious about going to space. So let’s go with it and enjoy the ride.”

Rounding out the crew: a Blue Origin vice president and two entrepreneurs who bid unsuccessfully for a seat on a previous flight with Amazon founder Bezos. Blue Origin did not disclose its ticket prices.

Bezos was at the elaborate launch and landing site near Van Horn, Texas, to watch the four.

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Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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