Billionaire Jeff Bezos’s space company said on Monday that Star Trek actor William Shatner will fly on the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle to the edge of space as part of a four-person crew that is set to launch next week.
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner, 90, said in a written statement released by Blue Origin ahead of the suborbital NS-18 flight scheduled for 12 October.
Bezos in July soared about 107km above the Texas desert aboard a New Shepard launch vehicle and returned safely to Earth.
Blue Origin said pioneering woman aviator Wally Funk, 82, who was on the July flight, was the oldest person to reach space. Shatner is set to break that record.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. New Shepard hurtled at speeds reaching 3 595km/hour, exceeding the “Karman line” — 100km — set by an international aeronautics body to define the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Shatner first played the role of Captain James T Kirk in 1966 for the Star Trek television series, the show that many Nasa astronauts credited with igniting their love of space. He also played the role in seven feature films.
On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration said it would review safety concerns raised by a former Blue Origin employee who was joined by 20 other unidentified Blue Origin employees and former employees, who wrote that they had “seen a pattern of decision making that often prioritises execution speed and cost reduction over the appropriate resourcing to ensure quality.”
Blue Origin said it provides “numerous avenues for employees, including a 24/7 anonymous hotline, and will promptly investigate any new claims of misconduct. We stand by our safety record and believe that New Shepard is the safest space vehicle ever designed or built.” — Reported by David Shepardson, (c) 2021 Reuters