William Shatner, TV’s Capt. Kirk, blasts into space

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
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Parachutes slow the descent of the Blue Origin capsule with passengers William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries near the company’s spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. AP PHOTO

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers hurtled to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth in a flight that lasted just over 10 minutes.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos after emerging from the capsule, the words spilling from him in a soliloquy almost as long as the flight. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”

He said that going from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: “In an instant you go, whoa, that’s death. That’s what I saw.”

Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.

Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the stalwart Capt. James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise boldly go where no star of American TV has gone before.

“This is a pinch-me moment for all of us to see Capt. James Tiberius Kirk go to space,” Blue Origin launch commentator Jacki Cortese said before liftoff. She said she, like so many others, was drawn to the space business by shows like “Star Trek.”

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