Trekkies rejoice! William Shatner becomes the oldest person in space
Van Horn, Texas - He's back safe and sound! Star Trek icon William Shatner officially became the oldest person to reach space on Wednesday.
Boldly going where only a few have gone before, 90-year-old Shatner became the oldest person in history to make it into space.
The accomplishment comes some 55 years after his first appearance as Captain Kirk in one of TV's most famous space travel shows.
The flight by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin took a crew of four civilians, including the Canadian actor, some 65 miles above the Earth on Wednesday morning, past the Karman Line space boundary.
The passengers experienced several minutes of weightlessness before parachutes were deployed above the New Shepard capsule and the craft floated back down to Earth, about 11 minutes after take-off.
It was the second human flight by the Blue Origin space tourism company, one of three firms that recently started offering commercial trips to the edge of space for paying customers.
While clearly a PR coup for Bezos, it is not clear whether Shatner was invited on to the craft for free, or whether he paid the considerable price tag.
In a tweet timed to appear during his flight, Shatner posted a picture of the Blue Origin feather logo on top of the Star Trek logo, and wrote of how he felt during his life that a "great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
His trip had led to a slew of internet memes including mock-ups of the Blue Origin crew in Star Trek costumes, and a promise by Shatner that he would use the space experience for his next music album.
"I want to write about my love of Earth," he said before the flight, "this gem, this warm, loving, nourishing planet."
After landing back on Earth, Shatner said the flight was the most profound experience he could imagine.
"I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it," he said.
Star Trek star makes history
Shatner was joined on the all-civilian flight by Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers and two other crewmates, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, and medical data businessman Glen de Vries.
Unlike on Kirk's Enterprise, none of the crew had the controls, as the whole flight was piloted remotely.
The New Shepard craft launched at 9:49 CDT from Van Horn, Texas. It had been set back by one day due to the possibility of strong winds disrupting the launch on Tuesday.
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Bezos was at the landing site to greet the new "astronauts".
Bezos himself was a passenger on the inaugural Blue Origin human flight in July.
Blue Origin's New Shepard takes its passengers considerably higher than one of Bezos' space tourism competitors, Virgin Galactic, led by Richard Branson.
Another billionaire, Tesla boss Elon Musk, has also entered the space tourism business with a craft that does a whole orbit of the Earth.
Yet, Trekkies can celebrate that it's one of their most beloved characters – Shatner himself – that has made a new historic first!
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire & Cover-Images