William Shatner to launch into space on next Blue Origin flight

He boldly goes where Jeff Bezos has gone before. William Shatner, best known for his years as captain of the USS Enterprise, James T. K...


He boldly goes where Jeff Bezos has gone before.

William Shatner, best known for his years as captain of the USS Enterprise, James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” television and film series, will fly to the edge of space this month aboard New Shepard. This is the tourist rocket built by Blue Origin, the private space company owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

“So now I can say something. Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a “rocket man!” “Shatner wrote on Twitter of the news.

The flight is scheduled for October 12, and Mr. Shatner will be joined by two other paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of satellite imagery company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of clinical research. Medidata software. The fourth passenger on the mission will be Audrey Powers, vice president of Blue Origin.

The company launched its first passenger crew in space in July. The crew for this mission included Mr. Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Wally funk, 82, a pilot who was denied the opportunity to become an astronaut in the 1960s because of her gender, and an 18-year-old Dutch student. Ms Funk, 82, currently holds the record for the oldest passenger in space.

From the Blue Origin pad in West Texas, the 16-story rocket will launch from an altitude of about 63 miles and release its gumball-shaped crew capsule. Passengers experience about four minutes of weightlessness in microgravity. The New Shepard booster will return to Earth for a vertical landing a few miles from its starting point, while the crew’s capsule will drop a few minutes later under a set of parachutes.

The flight will not reach orbit, which requires a much more powerful rocket to lift a spacecraft to a much higher altitude.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle is the centerpiece of its space tourism business, and Mr Bezos said he has already booked more than $ 100 million in tickets. The company did not disclose ticket prices, reserving seats privately instead. The company’s space tourism rival, Virgin Galactic, sells seats aboard its suborbital space plane from $ 450,000.

The mission will come during a turbulent time for Blue Origin. Last week, 21 current and former employees stated in an essay that the company was plagued by sexism and contempt for employees who spoke out about safety concerns regarding the New Shepard rocket. Blue Origin disputed the allegations, claiming the company had an internal hotline for sexual harassment complaints and that New Shepard was the “safest space vehicle ever designed or built.”

Mr de Vries, one of the passengers who will join Mr Shatner at the New Shepard summit, said last week he was not worried about the content of the essay. “I’m confident in Blue Origin’s safety program, spaceship and track record, and I certainly wouldn’t fly with them if I wasn’t.” he said last week.

The company has other challenges, including sparring with NASA in federal court after lose a major contract with SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk, to build a lander to send astronauts back to the moon. Development of an engine that will power larger rockets, including one built by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance, is about a year overdue.

New Shepard is one of the few spacecraft to offer space trips for high net worth passengers in the emerging space tourism industry. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, developed primarily to transport government astronauts to the International Space Station, carried its first private crew of tourists in September and has other private missions scheduled for next year. Virgin Galactic, which flew its founder, Richard Branson, and other passengers into space in July, plans to open its commercial space tourism business next year, reducing the backlog of some 600 ticket holders. Its next flight, with officers and researchers from the Italian Air Force on board, is scheduled to take place this month.

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Newsrust - US Top News: William Shatner to launch into space on next Blue Origin flight
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