Star Trek actor William Shatner has become the oldest person to reach space, calling his trip “the most profound experience”.

The 90-year-old blasted off from Texas at 3.49pm UK time on a Blue Origin rocket – the space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, spent 10 minutes on his suborbital flight alongside three others.

As it happened – William Shatner becomes oldest ever astronaut

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

William Shatner blasts off to edge of space

Blue Origin rocket
Image: The rocket reached 2,235mph (3,597kph) and the mission lasted just over 10 minutes

After touching down, Shatner placed his hands on Bezos’s shoulders and told him: “What you have given me is the most profound experience… I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened”.

“I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now – I don’t want to lose it,” he added.

He said that smashing through the blue sky to the blackness of space was a moving experience.

More on Blue Origin

“You look down, there’s the blue down there and the black up there – and it’s just, there is Mother Earth. This is life and that’s death, and in an instant, you know that’s death,” Shatner said.

“That’s what I saw. Is that the way death is?…” he asked.

Before the launch, Shatner had admitted he was a “little frightened”.

The 18-metre New Shepard rocket sent the quartet just above the internationally-recognised boundary of space known as the Karman Line, reaching about 66 miles (106km) above Earth.

Shatner blue origin - Splash down
Image: The capsule landed in the desert at 3.59pm UK time

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Shatner hugs Bezos as he emerges from space capsule

The reusable rocket detached from the capsule carrying the astronauts and fired its engines to land itself upright back on the launch pad.

Shatner experienced weightlessness before parachutes delivered the capsule back to Earth at about 15mph, touching down in a cloud of dust in the desert.

Bezos opened the hatch as Shatner and the others stepped out to cheers and hugs from their families.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Shatner and crew ring bell as they board capsule

This undated photo made available by Blue Origin in October 2021 shows, from left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. (Blue Origin via AP)
Image: From left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Pic: AP

Two paying customers were on the flight: former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen – who co-founded a satellite company, and clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries.

The fourth astronaut was Blue Origin vice president and former NASA space station flight controller Audrey Powers.

The company tweeted that the rocket reached 2,235mph (3,597kph) and the mission lasted 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

Blue Origin’s rocket system is called New Shepard, named after the Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard who was the first American to go into space.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Why billionaires are going to space

The company aims to attract regular paying customers in future and had its maiden space tourism flight on 20 July, when Bezos and three others flew to the edge of space.

Other billionaires are also competing in the space race, notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here