News & Opinion | October 4, 2021 11:53 am

More Than 50 Years After “Star Trek,” William Shatner Is Going to Space for Real

Shatner will make the journey aboard Jeff Bezos's next Blue Origin flight

William Shatner, best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the Star Trek television series, speaks at the opening day of MEGACON at the Orange County Convention Center.
William Shatner, best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk, speaks at the opening day of MEGACON at the Orange County Convention Center.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

More than 50 years after he portrayed the iconic Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek TV series, William Shatner is headed to space for real. As CNBC reports, Shatner will be one of the passengers on the next crewed spaceflight from Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

The actor will join Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, as well as Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries aboard the company’s New Shepard rocket on Oct. 12. And at age 90, he will become the oldest person to fly to space, beating the previous record set by Wally Funk, who flew on Blue Origin’s first launch at age 82.

Of course, we should clarify that Shatner won’t be reaching the deep space we saw him explore on Star Trek. Blue Origin’s flights only reach the edge of space; the flight on New Shepard lasts roughly 10 minutes from liftoff to landing. The rocket carries the capsule up to the U.S. boundary of space (at 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, altitude), and after floating in microgravity for a few minutes, it returns to land under a set of parachutes.

Blue Origin — and more broadly, the trend of billionaires like Bezos and Richard Branson sending themselves into space — has been the subject of internet ridicule lately. Just last Saturday, it was spoofed in a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Owen Wilson as Bezos, and we all had a laugh last summer over the way the rocket itself resembles a penis.

If, however, you’d like to watch 90-year-old William Shatner get launched to the boundary of space, Blue Origin will be streaming a live webcast of the mission, dubbed NS-18, beginning at 8 a.m. EST on Oct. 12.