William Shatner is officially the oldest human to have ever traveled into outer space. The 90-year-old Star Trek actor (famous for playing Captain James Tiberius Kirk, leader of the USS Enterprise) was part of Blue Origin's second manned launch Wednesday morning. The previous record was set by Wally Funk, who took part in the company's first launch over the summer alongside founder Jeff Bezos.
"That was unlike anything they described," Shatner said over the radio as the New Shepard NS-18 peacefully floated back down to Earth following the 10-minute flight past the Kármán line (the internationally recognized border of space). Originally supposed to take place yesterday morning, the mission was delayed by "forecasted winds."
Bezos himself was there in person to greet the newly-christened astronauts with two big thumbs up and hugs all around. Once on the ground, a tearful Shatner shared his initial impressions, stating that "everybody needs to see" what it's like to leave the planet's atmosphere. "To see the blue color whip by and now you're staring into blackness, that's the thing. The covering of blue — this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us. Suddenly, you shoot through it as though you whip off a sheet when you're asleep and you're looking into black ugliness. There is Mother Earth and comfort and...is there death? Is that the way death is? ... It was so moving."
"I'm going up into space. I don't know how many people who can say that," Shatner remarked in a promotional video posted by Blue Origin this morning (see below). "It's life-changing in its way. Not because of the aerial adventure, but because of the people I'm meeting and talking to. Jeff Bezos's concept to make living and building in space and to make pollution a thing of the past...I mean, what noble ambitions those are and somebody has to start it. We're just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is. And how extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning."
Once it was clear that the capsule would return home safely, Shatner's Twitter account posted a photo of the Starfleet logo inlaid with the blue feather emblem of Blue Origin,s cheduled for when he's in the air. The poetic caption reads: "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
“There’s little niggling… I’m terrified,” Shatner said of his trip while speaking at New York Comic Con this past weekend. “I’m Captain Kirk and I’m terrified. I’m not really terrified. Yes I am. It comes and goes."
His fellow space travelers aboard the rocket were Audrey Powers (Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations) and two crew members: Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries. Shatner shared a photo of himself and the other passengers in their flight suits on Twitter Sunday. You can learn more about them by clicking here.
"I’m so proud and humbled to fly on behalf of Team Blue, and I’m excited to continue writing Blue’s human spaceflight history,” Powers said in a statement last week. “I was part of the amazing effort we assembled for New Shepard’s Human Flight Certification Review, a years-long initiative completed in July 2021. As an engineer and lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we’ve developed."
"I’m taking all of my dear friends into space in my heart that is filled with love for you all!" tweeted Shatner.
Watch the full livestream below: