Blue Origin plans to make its second crewed flight ever on Wednesday, this time carrying the alter ego of one of the most iconic space travelers ever.
The first flight of a New Shepard rocket
with humans aboard launched July 20 and carried company founder and mega-rich guy Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and student Oliver Daemen on a quick trip to space. This time around the headline , the 90-year-old veteran actor best known for playing James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise in the Star Trek universe.
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” Shatner said cheekily in a statement last week. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”
The mission, dubbed NS18, is set to liftoff at 6:30 a.m. PT (8:30 a.m. CT) Wednesday, Oct. 13. Live coverage from Blue Origin is set to begin 90 minutes earlier and will be streamed live. CNET’s livestreamed coverage of the launch is below.
Shatner will be joined in the New Shepard capsule by Chris Boshuizen, former NASA engineer and co-founder of satellite imaging company Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, an entrepreneur and executive with French software company Dassault Systemes; and Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers.
The quartet will blast off from Blue Origin’s west Texas launch facility Wednesday morning. A few minutes into the flight, the capsule will separate from the booster and continue on to suborbital space, where the crew will get to experience weightlessness and an epic view of Earth before reentering the atmosphere for a parachute-assisted soft landing in the desert. The whole experience should last around 15 minutes.
After separation, the New Shepard booster returns for an autonomous landing on the ground to be reused in the future.
Shatner, who has also released over 10 albums as a recording artist, says he plans to write a song about the experience for his next album.
“I want to write about my love of Earth,”in an interview posted to Twitter.
The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 12, but got bumped to the following day because of winds in the forecast.
“The mission operations team confirmed the vehicle has met all mission requirements and astronauts began their training today,” Blue Origin said in a statement Sunday morning. “Weather is the only gating factor for the launch window.”