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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

To oldly go: Shatner, 90, inspires with real-life space trip

by Cody Jackson and Andrew Dalton

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — William Shatner is set to embark on his first real-life space flight on Wednesday, and as he becomes the 90 oldest man to enter the final frontier, he’s bringing awe to a small handful of people. There is people around a rural Texas spaceport.

Shatner’s 10-minute journey with three others on Jeff Bezos’ second passenger flight from Blue Origin will be more like the first space launch of the 1960s than the fictional galactic voyages of the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek,” but the very idea Leaving her environment is powerful.

“It’s time that Captain Kirk really physically got up into space. I’m very excited about it,” said Becky Brewster, the mayor of Van Horn, a rural town of about 1,800 people, in what was once a desolate desert in far west Texas. The farm was, which has been replaced by the presence of Blue Origin spaceport facilities. 25 miles away.

Meyer, a lifelong “Star Trek” fan, said she was disappointed she wasn’t invited to the launch site, but she’s savoring the moment anyway. She plans to watch the livestream play from her backyard.

“He and Mr. Spock were the ones who got me interested in space and science fiction and everything else,” Brewster said. “So, from junior high age to now where William Shatner is really fixing our town to go to space. You know, it’s like full circle to me now.”

Beyond his celebrity identity, Shatner is space bound at his age, a kick to close observers.

Joseph Barra, who works as a bartender for a Los Angeles-based catering company, only heard he was getting an unusual gig at a remote Texas launch site.

“I’m like Stop. You put me in space. There was no other clue,” Barra said. “And then I heard they were about to send some 90-year-old man into space. And I’m like, dang, that sounds intense. Like, I wonder who that is. Then you come to the site and I’m like, oh, this is William Shatner.

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Barra said the experience of serving drinks to Shatner and his crewmates has been surreal and then nothing.

“We’re seeing the person who popularized or created space or gave everyone the dream of going to space,” Barra said. “Now he’s going into space and he’s setting the bar. It’s inspirational. Some people like this here, this guy is 90 years old, proving that no matter how old you are, you still need to be on this earth.” But there is much more to be done and accomplished, and you can still give people an inspiration and a source to do something else.”

Barra said he heard Shatner say that he plans to look out the window at Earth during his minutes of weightlessness.

But apparently they have something else planned.

A Twitter user asked Shatner, an avid tweeter, on Tuesday if he would post from space.

“I can’t bring my phone, but I’ve preordered something,” Shatner replied with a wink emoji.

Earlier in the week he tweeted a photo of himself and his fellow crew members in blue flight suits, which are far more futuristic than the yellow panther-style uniforms worn on the original “Star Trek.”

“Aren’t we all appreciative!” Shatner said.

Bezos, who was on Blue Origin’s first flight in July, is also a big fan of “Star Trek,” and invited Shatner to fly as a guest.

He will join three others – two of them paying customers in the growing business of space tourism – on the Blue Origin capsule.

The fully automated flight, delayed by one day due to weather, would take them no more than approximately 66 miles (106 kilometres). The capsule would parachute back to the desert floor from which it took off.

After returning to Earth, Shatner plans to return to his job as Captain Kirk.

“I’m doing Space, then Indiana Comic Con, and then Sunday Wizard World in Chicago,” he tweeted.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

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