Eric N. Narvaez ‘23
“Where no man has gone before.” Those are the famous words from the intro of the Sci-Fi TV show, Star Trek, back in the late 1900s. Now, William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the popular show, was finally able to live out these words by setting the record for being the oldest person to ever fly to space at the age of ninety years old.
On October 13, 2021, Shatner became the oldest man to go to space. With the help of Jeff Bezos and his aerospace company, Blue Origin, Shatner hitched a ride to the final frontier aboard the New Shepard Spacecraft along with three other crew members. Among these three crew members were Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of the satellite company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vires, chief software executive of the clinical research firm Medidata Solutions.
New Shepard was the same spacecraft that Jeff Bezos used when he took his flight into the final frontier back on July 20th, 2021. It was also the very first launch issued by Blue Origin, and will be known for the beginning of commercial space flights.
Bezos had been a lifelong fan of Star Trek, even pretending to be Captain James T. Kirk as a child when playing with his siblings, so when offered the opportunity to launch Shatner into space, he was ecstatic. He acted as a Chauffeur, both assisting the crew when they were boarding the rocket and assisting them when they were getting out of the capsule.
The whole space flight lasted a total of ten minutes, from launch to landing. The spaceship grazed the very edge of the atmosphere, and after experiencing three minutes of weightlessness, the ship came right back down to the surface of the Earth. Upon landing, Shatner’s crew was greeted by Bezos. Shatner was emotional, telling Bezos, “What you have given me is the most profound experience, I am so filled with emotion, just extraordinary.” Shatner was so overwhelmed with emotion he even hoped that he “never recovers from this.” Shatner’s flight was the second one ever issued by Blue Origin, and Shatner definitely hopes it won’t be the last. Bezos has already sold over 100 million dollars in tickets for future commercial space flights, opening up a new era in space travel, being a part of the beginnings of space tourism. Shatner, now finally achieving his dream, hopes that others too can experience this, hoping that space tourism is kept up in the future.