Star Trek legend William Shatner is now the oldest person to ever physically leave the earth, as the 90-year-old successfully traveled into space on Wednesday. As has been reported, he was invited to hop aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-18 with company owner Jeff Bezos personally closing the hatch. The trip had seen a short delay after it was initially scheduled for earlier this week, but now Shatner has officially been to space and back.
Along with Shatner, those aboard the spacecraft were Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers, and crew members Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries. In a tweet that was set to automatically post once Shatner was in space, the actor said, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” Shatner also said prior to his launch. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”
After William Shatner returned to Earth, he spoke about how the experience was much more emotional than he was expecting. Video footage of Shatner reflecting on the journey shows him saying, “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me and life.” You can watch Shatner speak about the event in the CNN footage below.
“What [Jeff Bezos has] given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner also said, overwhelmed by just how small the planet really is when looking down at it from above. “It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.”
In all, the trip took about ten minutes from when William Shatner left Earth to his return. Those aboard were able to feel total weightlessness at the top of the flight for about three minutes before parachutes were deployed to slow their descent. They then safely landed near their Texas launch site with the successful flight giving Shatner the new record for the poldest person to visit space. It was previously held by 82-year-old Wally Funk who joined Jeff Bezos for a flight up to space in July.
This whole thing came about because Bezos is a self-professed Trekkie with the money and the means to literally send William Shatner to space. Shatner is the oldest living person to have left the planet in a spacecraft, but in a way, he’s not the first Star Trek star to do so. A friend of late Star Trek star James Doohan recently revealed that he smuggled the Scotty actor’s ashes onto the International Space Station, and as far as he knows, they’re still up there. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry has also had some of his ashes launched into space. Footage of Shatner’s return to Earth after his own space flight comes to us from CNN.