Beam me up? TMZ says William Shatner will take Blue Origin suborbital space trip
The next crewed suborbital spaceflight planned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture — which could launch as early as next month — is due to carry Star Trek captain William Shatner, according to the TMZ celebrity news site.
If the report based on unnamed sources is true, that would make Shatner the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 90, besting the record set by 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk during the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July.
We’ve reached out to Blue Origin (via email) and Shatner (via Twitter), and we’ll update this report with anything we hear back.
Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series and in a series of movies. That gives him at least one thing in common with Bezos. The world’s richest individual also played a part in a Star Trek production: a cameo as an alien Starfleet officer that lasted several seconds in the movie “Star Trek Beyond.”
Taking a ride on the New Shepard spaceship wouldn’t require as much effort as, say, commanding the Starship Enterprise. The flight profile involves climbing into a crew capsule for launch from Blue Origin’s West Texas spaceport to an altitude in excess of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Shatner and other spacefliers would have a few minutes of floating in zero-G and enjoying the view of the black sky over a curving Earth — and then would descend to a parachute-aided landing in the Texas desert.
Training for such a suborbital mission requires only a few days, and the flight itself typically lasts about 10 minutes. That’s in contrast to the time frame for an orbital flight like the one SpaceX provided this month for the philanthropic Inspiration4 mission. Inspiration4’s four crew members went through months of training for a flight that lasted three days.
TMZ reports that negotiations are in progress to film the mission for a documentary. It’s not clear whether Shatner would be flown at Bezos’ invitation, as Wally Funk was, or whether a fare is being paid for the flight. In advance of July’s crewed flight, the price tag rose as high as $28 million during an auction.
After July’s New Shepard flight, Blue Origin said the next crewed mission was being planned for the September-October time frame — which suggests it won’t be long before we find out if TMZ’s sources are right.