Star Trek actor William Shatner to be launched into space

‘I’m going to be a rocket man!’, 90-year-old actor tweets ahead of blast-off from Texas next week

Star Trek’s Captain Kirk is rocketing into space this month – boldly going where no other sci-fi actors have gone.

Jeff Bezos's space travel company, Blue Origin, announced that William Shatner will blast off from West Texas on October 12th.

“Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” the 90-year-old tweeted. He added: “It’s never too late to experience new things.”

Mr Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is a huge fan of the sci-fi series and even had a cameo as a high-ranking alien in the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond. His rocket company invited Shatner to fly as its guest.


Shatner, who will become the oldest person to fly in space, will join three others – two of them paying customers – aboard a Blue Origin capsule.

He would have been the first actor in space if Russia was not launching an actress and a film director to the International Space Station on Tuesday for almost two weeks of moviemaking.

Shatner’s flight, by comparison, will last just 10 minutes and reach no higher than about 105km. The capsule will parachute back to the desert floor, not far from where it took off.

With flights short or long, space tourism is picking up steam fast.

Virgin Galactic carried founder Richard Branson to the edge of space with five others in July, followed nine days later by Mr Bezos's space hop.

Elon Musk's SpaceX, meanwhile, launched its first private crew last month – a Pennsylvania entrepreneur who bought the three-day flight and took along two contest winners and a cancer survivor.

Virgin Galactic’s ship launches from an aeroplane and requires two pilots. Blue Origin and SpaceX’s capsules are fully automated, but the passengers must pass medical screenings and, among other things, be able to quickly climb several flights of steps at the launch tower to get to the capsule – or out of it in an emergency.

This will be Blue Origin’s second launch of a crew.

Mr Bezos was on the debut flight in July, along with his brother and the youngest and oldest to fly in space. Shatner will break that upper threshold by eight years.

“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner said.

Shatner played the role of the USS Starship Enterprise’s commander for three seasons, from 1966 to 1969. He also portrayed Captain Kirk in seven movies, directing one of them. – AP