The second passenger flight for Jeff Bezos’ space travel company Blue Origin includes a special guest: “Star Trek” star William Shatner. His invitation to make the trip was due in no small part to Bezos being a huge fan of the show.
“We’re just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted Tuesday night. “How extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning. It looks like there’s a great deal of curiosity about this fictional character, Captain Kirk, going into space. So let’s go along with it and enjoy the ride.”
The flight, which launched Wednesday morning, made the 90-year-old Shatner the oldes person to ever make it to space. That breaks the record set during Blue Origin’s first passenger flight, when 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk was one of the four people on board. That flight also included the youngest person to ever make it to space when 18-year-old Oliver Daemen became a last-minute fill-in for the mystery winner of a $28 million auction.
Joining Shatner on Wednesday’s four-person crew is a Blue Origin vice president and two entrepreneurs who were unable to secure spots on the first flight. How much the two had to pay to get on the second flight is unknown.
Wednesday’s flight used the same capsule and rocket from the first flight. The trip lasted about 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule reaching a maximum altitude of about 66 miles before parachuting back into the West Texas desert.
The flight comes in the middle of a billionaire space race. Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson kicked off the U.S. portion of the space tourism boom July 11, riding his own rocketship to space. The first Blue Origin passenger flight came nine days later. Elon Musk’s SpaceX company launched its first private flight last month. That flight sent a billionaire, a cancer survivor and two ticket winners into orbit. Meanwhile in Russia, an actor and film director went to the International Space Station last week for movie-making.