Who was the oldest person in space?

With very few of us ever having made the journey, it's no surprise that most astronauts are young and strong. Some are not so young, though, as the oldest person to ever go to space can attest.

Jeff Bezos' space program is responsible for the two oldest astronauts ever, Wally Funk (l.) and William Shatner (r.).
Jeff Bezos' space program is responsible for the two oldest astronauts ever, Wally Funk (l.) and William Shatner (r.).  © Collage: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire/ZUMA Press

Few have gone as far skyward as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did in 1969, nor have many made it even as far as the International Space Station.

Most of them have been relatively young and strong, but not all of them.

Indeed, some have made that journey at ages when most of us would be content to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

City in shock: Historic Dallas church destroyed by brutal fire of unknown origin
Accidents City in shock: Historic Dallas church destroyed by brutal fire of unknown origin

So, who holds the world record for the oldest person in space? Who was the oldest man to ever go into space, and who was the oldest-ever female astronaut? Let's take a look at their sky-high stories!

Oldest man in space

Launching into space in 2021 aboard Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin at the ripe old age of ninety, William Shatner became the oldest person to ever go to space.

Reaching more than 60 miles above the Earth's surface, the former Star Trek actor experienced a short period of weightlessness before coming back down. The whole journey took little more than ten minutes from start to finish.

This historic achievement was made alongside Audrey Powers (Vice President of Mission and Flight Operations at Blue Origin), Glen de Vries, and Chris Boshuizen. A year after the flight that changed his life and scored him an impressive-as-heck world record courtesy of Guinness World Records, Shatner shared an excerpt of his book with Variety, discussing the experience.

"I looked down and could see the hole that our spaceship had punched in the thin, blue-tinged layer of oxygen around Earth. It was as if there was a wake trailing behind where we had just been, and just as soon as I’d noticed it, it disappeared... when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold... all I saw was death."

It seems, perhaps, that as mind-blowing as Shatner's experience was, especially having just become the oldest man ever to reach space, it probably isn't an experience he'd repeat.

William Shatner was in his 90s when he flew into space.
William Shatner was in his 90s when he flew into space.  © IMAGO/YAY Images

William Shatner's space voyage was controversial

Shatner's record-breaking voyage was a tad controversial, and not just because it had taken place on Bezos' spaceship. Instead, many claimed that they had not really reached space.

The argument was that the whole journey had only taken five minutes and that having only just breached the Earth's atmosphere, it wasn't really space travel.

That argument is somewhat disproven, though, as Shatner and his crew went past the Kármán line, which is the internationally recognized start of space. As a result, he did reach space and does qualify for the world record.

Oldest woman in space

Wally Funk is the oldest woman to ever go into space.
Wally Funk is the oldest woman to ever go into space.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

At 82 years old, Wally Funk became the oldest woman to ever go to space when she boarded another Blue Origin rocket in 2021.

Having been invited by Jeff Bezos to be an honored guest on Blue Origins' NS-16 mission, Wally achieved a half-century long goal of hers and finally became an astronaut.

This voyage also only took around ten minutes, with the aircraft shooting through the air at three times the speed of sound before stopping 62 miles from the Earth's surface, turning around, and coming back down.

Teamsters president slammed for cozying up to Trump and Republicans amid RNC appearance
Labor Unions Teamsters president slammed for cozying up to Trump and Republicans amid RNC appearance

An extraordinary person with a fascinating life, Funk was honored by Guinness World Records and officially became the world record holder for oldest person to ever travel in space – until Shatner broke her record months later.

So Captain Kirk did go to space!

Having served as Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series back in the 1960s, William Shatner has spent much of his "pining" for the stars. Now it's official - Captain Kirk finally made the journey skyward and marked his twilight years with an adventure most of us would never even hope to have experienced.

More than fifty years after Shatner ended his time as Captain Kirk in 1966, his 2021 voyage shot him even further into the stars than his sci-fi fame ever could. At more than 90 years old, that's truly something out-of-this-world!

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire/ZUMA Press

More on World Records: