William Shatner ‘terrified’ of space flight ahead of launch today

"Captain Kirk is off to space for the first time", is a sentence that may confuse a few Star Trek fans, but that is what 90-year-old actor William Shatner is doing today.

Shatner, who will boldly go where several very rich billionaires have gone before, admitted that he felt "terrified" ahead of the flight.

At a panel discussion at Comic-Con in New York last week, Shatner said: "I’m terrified. I’m Captain Kirk and I’m terrified. I’m not really terrified – yes I am. It comes and goes like a summer cold.

"I’m planning on putting my nose against the window [once I’m in space], and my only hope is I won’t see someone else looking back.”

Space travel is historically risky and there are plenty of things that could potentially go wrong.

He told Sky News: "But I've got to think that once it's done, once I've been into space and seen the universe and seen our Earth and the contrast between that hostility and this warmth, and how important it is to keep the Earth alive so that we don't wreck it, we human beings don't wreck it, that contrast in all of that is so dramatic to me."

So ahead of Shatner shooting off to space, what actually are the risks?

What are the risks of space travel?

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The Star Trek actor is set to board Jeff Bezos' New Shepard rocket from the launchpad in Van Horn, Texas. This is now scheduled for 3pm today (UK time), after a small delay.

According to CNN Business, the risks are far less than what they used to and the flight time is around only 11 minutes. There won't be any orbiting involved and Shatner and company should merely go up and come straight back down.

Due to not going into orbit, the flight will reach around 62 miles high, there is less power required from the booster rockets.

Lower power rockets don't burn quite as hot and or go nearly as fast. This reduces the pressure and strain on the spacecraft. The rockets used by Blue Origin have not yet had a catastrophic mishap or explosion in any of its flights so far.

Back-up safety features mean that the capsule containing the passengers can separate from the spacecraft at a moments notice, should a dangerous explosion occur.

Shatner should reach speeds a little below that of warp speed, that of around 2,300 miles per hour.

Mid-flight separation of the spacecraft is key. The crew needs to separate from the rockets safely before reaching the top of its trajectory.

They should fall safely back to Earth under the protection of parachutes.

William Shatner will be the oldest person to go space

Born on 22 March 1931, the space flight will make Shatner the oldest person ever to go into space.

The current oldest person in space is former test pilot Wally Funk, who left the Earth aboard Bezos' Blue Origin flight in July at the age of 82.

He beat John Glen's record of 77. Glen was the first astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962 and returned to space in 1998.

Of his age, Shatner told ITV "Nobody has said, "hey, you're 89!" But somehow this 90th [birthday] thing is a magic border to cross.

When you say to me that you're 90, I say "who are you talking about?""

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