Like Captain Kirk, William Shatner Will Travel to Space (Almost)

He is boldly going where Jeff Bezos has gone before.

William Shatner, best known as Captain James T. of the USS Enterprise in the “Star Trek” TV and film series. Best known from his years as Kirk, will launch at the edge of space aboard New Shepard this month. That’s the tourist rocket built by Blue Origin, the private space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“So now I can say something. Yes it’s true; I’m a ‘Rocket Man!’ going to be,” Mr. Shatner wrote about the news on Twitter.

The flight is scheduled for October 12, and Mr. Shatner will be joined by two other paying clients: Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of satellite imagery firm Planet Labs, and Glenn de Vries, co-founder of clinical research Software Medidata. . The fourth passenger on the mission will be Blue Origin Vice President Audrey Powers.

The company launched its First crew of astronauts in July. The crew of that mission included Mr Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, 82, a pilot who was denied the opportunity to become an astronaut in the 1960s because of her sex, and an 18-year-old Dutch schoolgirl. Ms Funk, 82, currently holds the record for being the oldest person in space.

From Blue Origin’s pad in West Texas, the 16-story-tall rocket will launch to an altitude of about 63 miles and release its gumdrop-shaped crew capsule. Passengers experience about four minutes of weightlessness in microgravity. The New Shepard booster will return to Earth for a vertical landing a few miles away, while the crew capsule will drop a few minutes later under a set of parachutes.

The flight would not reach orbit, requiring a more powerful rocket to propel the spacecraft to a much higher altitude.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle is the centerpiece of its space tourism business, and Mr. Bezos has said it already has more than $100 million worth of tickets booked. The company has not disclosed ticket prices, instead booking seats privately. Company’s rival in space tourism sells Virgin Galactic $450,000 in its suborbital space plane. seats starting from.

The mission will come during a busy time for Blue Origin. Last week, 21 current and former employees In an essay said that the company New Shepard was full of sexism and dismissal of employees speaking out on rocket-related safety issues. Blue Origin denies the allegationsSaid the company has an internal hotline for sexual harassment complaints and that the New Shepard was “the safest space vehicle ever designed or built”.

Mr De Vries, one of the passengers who joined Mr Shatner over the New Shepard, said last week that he was not concerned about the content of the essay. “I have complete confidence in Blue Origin’s safety program, spacecraft and track record, and would certainly not have flown with them if I hadn’t,” she said last week.

The company has other challenges, including a fight with NASA in federal court. Losing a Big Contract to SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk, to build a lander to bring astronauts back to the Moon. Development of an engine powering larger rockets is nearly a year behind, including an engine built by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin venture United Launch Alliance.

The New Shepard is one of a handful of spacecraft in the booming space tourism industry to offer space rides to wealthy travelers. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, developed primarily to fly government astronauts to the International Space Station, flew its first private crew of tourists in September and more private missions are slated for next year . Virgin Galactic, Joe Its founder Richard Branson and other passengers were sent into space in July, plans to open its commercial space tourism business next year, to clear a backlog of about 600 ticket holders. Its next flight, accompanied by officials and researchers from the Italian Air Force, is expected this month.

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