William Shatner has officially become the oldest person to fly into space with Blue Origin's second ever tour outside Earth. The 90-year-old was joined by Audrey Powers, vice president of mission & flight operations at Blue Origin, Chris Boshuizen, founder of Planet Labs, and famed microbiologist Glen de Vries.
On October 4, 2021, Shatner took to Twitter to confirm his ticket to space. Although the Star Trek alum was excited about creating history, several fans and social media users expressed concern about the journey due to his age.
However, famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson clarified that traveling to space is not harmful to Shatner despite his age. In an interview with TMZ, the planetary scientist mentioned that space flights does not require rigorous physical training like in the old days:
“It’s not like the old days… the reason why they went through all those training was because the capsule might have landed in the middle of nowhere and they have to go survival for days before anyone found them; that is not happening today. We know where you are at all times and we can get to your location basically instantly.”
He also mentioned that the there is enough safety in outer space:
“He’s about to be weightless for a period of time. If anything is going to kill you it’s gravity… the extra G-forces that you feel going up but those are tamp down, they’re about what you’d experience in an amusement park.”
The second Blue Origin space flight crew safely returned to Earth after spending 10 minutes in space. Although the space flight was created for wealthy passengers, William Shatner reportedly traveled free of cost as Jeff Bezos’ guest due to the latter’s love for the Star Trek franchise.
Meet William Shatner - the oldest man to fly into space
William Shatner is a Canadian actor and author, best recognized for playing Captain James T. Kirk of USS Enterprise in the popular science fiction franchise Star Trek. He was born on March 22, 1931, in Montreal, Canada. He is currently 90 years old.
He attended West Hill High School and was a member of the Montreal Children’s Theatre. He went on to study economics at McGill University's Faculty of Management and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1952.
Shatner began his career by performing at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1954 and debuted on the Broadway scene in 1956. His relationship with space began through screens when he appeared on the 1953 TV series Space Command.
Following a series of roles in films and television, he bagged the role of Captain Kirk for the Star Trek series. He portrayed the character from 1966 to 1969 and returned to voice the role in the 1973 animated Star Trek series.
The franchise featured the famous phrase “Where no man has gone before” in the voice of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk to describe the starship Enterprise mission. The actor later reprised an introductory speech from the show as a wake-up call to NASA’s STS-133 crew members.
William Shatner later authored a series of books documenting his experiences as Captain Kirk in Star Trek and his life post the franchise. He also co-wrote some novels based on the Star Trek universe and the sci-fi novel series TekWar.
The actor has appeared in more than 60 films and more than 100 TV series, including The Practice, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, and Boston Legal, among many others. The former earned him his first Emmy Award, while the latter gave him his first Golden Globe and second Emmy.
William Shatner was honored with a Doctorate of Letters by McGill University in 2011 and a Doctor of Letters by the New England Institute of Technology in 2018. He also earned the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2014.
The acclaimed artist earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983 and the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2020. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2019.
William Shatner has now created history by becoming the oldest man in the world to travel to outer space with Blue Origin’s second human space flight. He surpassed the record of 82-year-old Willy Funk, who was part of Jeff Bezos’ first human space flight in July.