William Shatner, the man who played Capt. Kirk on “Star Trek,” became the oldest human to experience recorded space travel when he left the bonds of earth aboard a Blue Origin capsule and appeared to return safely on Oct. 13, 2021.
Of course, there are some caveats here. We have to limit the age record to humans, because we have no idea how old the aliens who travel through space might be. Also, we have to say “recorded space travel” because, as fans of “Ancient Aliens” will point out, we’ll never know exactly what might have happened with our ancestors and visitors from outer space.
This was the second manned Blue Origin mission, following the July 2021 flight that included company founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos, of course, also founded Amazon.
Shatner’s still remarkably spry for a 90-year-old man and he didn’t look a bit scared as he readied to board the spacecraft. He was joined on the flight by Blue Origin Vice President Audrey Powers and two paying customers, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen and 3-D software entrepreneur Glen de Vries. Bezos, decked out in a flight suit, escorted Shatner to the capsule.
The launch was flawless.
After an 11-minute flight, the capsule made a successful landing in rural Texas. Shatner was moved by his trip. “What I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible the jeopardy, the vulnerability of everything,” he said. “This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin.”
Jeff Bezos wins the Best Star Trek Fan Ever trophy because Shatner told him, “What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine.” He described his experience to Bezos after climbing out of the capsule near Van Horn, Texas, about 30 miles from the Mexican border.
One of the greatest marketing minds in human history wins again. Who better to promote a space travel company than Capt. Kirk himself? All the news channels devoted their mornings to covering the trip live, and Bezos is almost certain to have a few thousand more paying customers on his space flight wait list by sundown.
After he returned to terra firma, the newly minted astronaut took to Twitter with a quote from physicist Isaac Newton.
As for Shatner, let’s close with his performance of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Rocket Man” at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films' 1978 Saturn Awards. For Capt. Kirk and “Star Trek” fans, it sure has been a long, long time.
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