UPDATE, 8:04 AM PT: The Blue Origin mission carrying William Shatner is complete, apparently flawless, after the capsule landed via parachute in the Texas desert and the booster rocket successfully landed back on a pad.
Jeff Bezos was at the site to greet the crew as they came off the spacecraft.
UPDATE, 7:49 AM PT: The Blue Origin rocket carrying William Shatner launched into space from a West Texas pad.
The launch went off apparently without a hitch, after two delays. It is the second human flight on the rocket, called the New Shepard.
“This is like nothing I ever experienced before,” Shatner said, according to a flight controller.
— CNN (@CNN) October 13, 2021
UPDATE, 7:44 AM PT: With the second hold lifted, a Blue Origin rocket with William Shatner among the crew was cleared for launch.
Some commentators contrasted the relatively primitive technology compared to that seen on Star Trek and other sci fi shows.
“Reality meets Hollywood here and we are trying to have reality catch up to the science fiction vision,” Miles O’Brien, who long covered space for CNN, said on the network before the launch.
UPDATE, 7:16 AM PT: William Shatner and three others boarded the Blue Origin capsule for a brief spaceflight on Wednesday, a mission that will make the Star Trek actor the oldest person ever to go into space.
But with about 15 minutes to launch, the clock was stopped for another hold. An earlier delay lasted more than 30 minutes.
Jeff Bezos, the owner of Blue Origin who was part of the first manned mission in July, escorted the crew to the West Texas launchpad. He shook hands with Shatner before he entered the capsule.
Before the launch, they were read messages from those who took the previous Blue Origin flight. Mark Bezos’ message was “you lucky bastards.” He also quoted from Mr. Spaceman, with lyrics by William Shatner, a nod to Shatner’s kitschy 1970s rendition. Hey Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride?
PREVIOUSLY: William Shatner was poised to become the oldest person ever to go into space in the latest flight of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, after the mission was put on hold for about 30 minutes for what was described as “vehicle readiness.”
The launch was scheduled to take place at 7 AM PT.
Shatner, 90, was being joined by three other crew members in what will be a 10-minute, suborbital space flight on the capsule. They began heading to the launch site with Bezos after word that the hold was lifted.
Cable news channels covered the launch, filling airtime with commentary from space experts and former astronauts. Networks extensively covered Bezos’ spaceflight in July and Shatner’s recent addition to the crew undoubtedly added to the attention for the latest mission.
A scheduled launch for Sunday was delayed due to bad weather.
Last week, Shatner spoke at New York’s Comic Con and said , “I’m terrified. I’m Captain Kirk, and I’m terrified. I’m not really terrified — yes I am. It comes and goes like a summer cold. I’m planning on putting my nose against the window [once I’m in space], and my only hope is I won’t see someone else looking back.”
When it was announced that he would be on the flight, Shatner said in a statement, “I’ve heard about space for a long time now,. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”
Also on the flight was Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, as well as two who paid for the mission, Glen de Vries and Chris Boshuizen. Shatner’s ride was comped by Blue Origin.