he can finally say that he went there boldly
Famed Star Trek actor William Shatner and a crew of three fellow travelers flew to the edge of space and back on Blue Origin’s New Shepard tourist rocket this morning. Foursome took off at 9:50 a.m. from Blue Origin’s launch facility in Van Horn, Texas, climbed to an altitude of about 66 miles, and then returned safely to Earth.
There were two paying customers and a Blue Origin employee who flew with Shatner today. These included Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of the small satellite company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata, a software company. Audrey Powers, Vice President of Mission and Flight Operations at Blue Origin, represented the company in flight.
This morning’s flight, which lasted just over 10 minutes, marks the second successful crew launch for Blue Origin on a New Shepard rocket. The company’s first crewed launch on July 20 included Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and former Amazon CEO. She flew with her brother, Mark, a Dutch teenager, and legendary aviator Wally Funk. When Funk took off, she became the oldest person in space at 82, but this morning, 90-year-old Shatner surpassed her.
The New Shepard is currently the company’s primary rocket. The vehicle is suborbital, so it cannot achieve enough speed to go into orbit around Earth. Instead, it is able to launch the crew to the edge of space and back so that the riders can experience weightlessness for a few minutes. To go to space, the crew launches strapped inside a crew capsule that sits on top of the rocket. Once above Earth, the capsule and rocket separate and the passengers float across the cabin for a short while. Then, both pieces of the vehicle fall back to Earth; The capsule descends under a parachute while the rocket reignites its engines and lands upright.
Although Shatner’s flight was ultimately successful, it comes amid a difficult time for Blue Origin. Just before the mission, 21 current and former employees published a damning essay criticizing Blue Origin’s culture as both sexist and unsafe. recently Washington Post The investigation also revealed that employees believe Blue Origin has “an authoritarian brotherly culture.”