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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

William Shatner, TV’s Capt. Kirk, boards rocket for blastoff

by Marcia Dunn and Rick Taber

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, boarded a rocket ship with three fellow passengers for a real-life ride into space on Wednesday, courtesy of “Star Trek” fan Jeff Bezos .

The four were expected to last only 10 minutes for the morning launch from far west Texas, before parachuting back to the desert floor to reach an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers) with the fully automated capsule. did.

Bezos’ space travel company, Blue Origin, invited Shatner to go to the final frontier, a mission that would make him the oldest person in space.

Bezos himself escorted all four to the pad and was with them on an above-ground platform as they boarded the 60-foot rocket. The capsule, New Shepard, was named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space.

“Seeing Captain James Tiberius Kirk going into space is a pinch moment for all of us,” Blue Origin launch commentator Jackie Cortes said before liftoff. She said that she, like many others, was attracted to the space business from shows like “Star Trek.”

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This was Blue Origin’s second scheduled passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Bezos had used for its launch three months earlier.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson started the US-based space tourism boom in space in July by riding his own rocket ship. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk was left behind as his SpaceX company launched its first tourist flight last month.

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.

Rounding out the crew: A Blue Origin vice president and two entrepreneurs. Blue Origin did not disclose its ticket prices. Shatner was invited to ride for free.

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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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