Star Trek's William Shatner to fly to space in Blue Origin's New Shepard

The man famous for playing Captain James T. Kirk, the youngest captain in Starfleet history, will now be the oldest man to ever fly to space.

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jewish-Canadian actor of Star Trek fame William Shatner, 90, is poised to make history on Wednesday, going where no man his age has gone before: Space, the final frontier — Courtesy of Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin.

Shatner's flight is set to take off on Wednesday, October 13, at 9:30 a.m. EST after it was delayed due to high winds. The actor arrived at Blue Origin's astronaut village on Sunday in preparation of the anticipated mission.

Reports had surfaced in late September that Shatner, famous for portraying one of pop culture's most identifiable spacefaring science fiction heroes: Captain James T. Kirk, would have a seat on this mission. This was later confirmed in early October by Blue Origin and then by Shatner himself, writing on Twitter: "Yes, it's true; I'm going to be a 'rocket man!'" referencing the Elton John song of the same name.

But while Captain Kirk may have been famous for being the youngest captain in Starfleet history, Shatner is doing the exact opposite, with the 90-year-old actor set to be the oldest person to ever head to space. Until now, the current record-holder is Wally Funk, an 82-year-old test pilot who accompanied Bezos on his July flight.

But Shatner is more excited about getting to see the final frontier in person rather than at the age at which he gets to go. Speaking to CBS, the actor said his desire to go to space, something he has expressed interest in before, was "to have the vision. I want to see space. I want to see the Earth. I want to see what we need to do to save Earth."

"I want to have a perspective that hasn't been shown to me before," he said in an interview on CBS Mornings. "That's what I'm interested in seeing."

He later elaborated on this further in another interview. 

"I'm looking forward to the whole thing," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "Imagine being weightless and staring into the blackness and seeing the Earth, that's what I want to absorb."

However, he then voiced a bit of concern, adding: "Things like that go up and boom in the night. It's a little scary, I'll tell you."

Despite his age, Shatner seems to be in good enough health that there doesn't seem to be a risk factor, as far as Blue Origin is concerned. Since the capsule itself is automated, their medical requirements are relatively relaxed, as noted by CBS, whose report added that his biggest challenge might be climbing the seven flights of stairs to be able to board the capsule in the first place.

But regardless of why he wants to go, several celebrities came out to express their congratulations to the sci-fi icon who helped solidify the genre.

"I just can't get over it. I’m just so happy for you," tweeted famed actor Vincent D'Onofrio in response to a picture of Shatner and the rest of the crew suited up.

"This photo for so many reasons is everything about my childhood and the fun that life in our business can bring. For me Shatner my friend you in this photo is as cool as cool can be."

"This is just incredible," tweeted John Barrowman, a modern sci-fi icon in his own right from his role as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who. "You must be thrilled and so excited. From one fictional space traveler to another, I can only dream. You get to do it!"

This will be Blue Origin's second mission into space, following the first successful flight back in July.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/ISAIAH J. DOWNING/FILE PHOTO)Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/ISAIAH J. DOWNING/FILE PHOTO)

Like the previous mission, it will not head into orbit or spend an extended period of time in space. Rather, Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule will carry the crew up until they reach the Kármán line - a widely agreed-upon demarcation of the barrier between where the atmosphere ends and space begins, which is an altitude of around 100 kilometers, or just above 62 miles, as certified by the international aerospace record certification body the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

From there, the crew will stay there for around three-four minutes in weightlessness and with a view of the planet before the capsule parachutes back down to Earth.

But Shatner won't be resting after his historic journey. The actor is heading right back to Los Angeles after his trip to space ends for press interviews, he noted on Twitter. 

After that, he's set to go to Indiana for Friday and Saturday to attend the Indiana Comic Convention, and will then immediately travel to Chicago on Sunday for the Wizard World convention.

"No rest for the weary," he tweeted.

The New Shepard's launch can be watched live at https://www.blueorigin.com/.