Blue Origin delays William Shatner's space flight

Historic Blue Origin flight that will see William Shatner, 90, become the oldest person EVER to visit space is delayed for 24 hours because of windy weather

  • The Star Trek star had been due to lift-off in the Jeff Bezos-owned rocket on October 12
  • Bad weather means his flight will now lift off on October 13 instead
  • Shatner is famed for playing Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series
  • He will fly 62 kilometers into the sky, and experience four minutes of weightlessness 

William Shatner’s mission to become the oldest person ever to visit space has been delayed by 24 hours because of windy weather.

The 90 year-old Star Trek icon’s October 12 trip on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket will now take place on October 13 instead, with lift-off from Van Horn in Texas scheduled for 8:30am EST. 

A Blue Origin spokesman said: ‘Due to forecasted winds on Tuesday, October 12, Blue Origin’s mission operations team has made the decision to delay the launch of NS-18 and is now targeting Wednesday, October 13.’  

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the cult classic TV series ‘Star Trek,’ is due to become the first member of the iconic show’s cast to journey to the final frontier as a guest aboard a Blue Origin suborbital rocket.

His trip will take him and three other members of the NS-18 rocket crew just beyond the Karman line, 62 miles (100 kilometers) high, where they will experience four minutes of weightlessness and gaze out at the curvature of the planet.

William Shatner’s trip into space has been delayed for 24 hours because of windy weather at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site. The 90 year-old actor is pictured in 2017  

Blue Origin’s decision to invite one of the most recognizable galaxy-faring characters from science fiction for its second crewed flight has helped maintain excitement around the nascent space tourism sector.

For fans, the 10-minute hop from a West Texas base back to Earth will be a fitting coda for a pop culture phenomenon that inspired generations of astronauts.

Last week, the Canadian-born thespian shared his nerves over the trip with an audience at New York Comic Con.

He said: ‘I’m terrified. I know! I’m Captain bloody Kirk and I’m terrified!’

Shatner also shared how Jeff Bezos, the billionaire who founded Amazon, had told him he’d be the oldest person ever to make it into space. 

Bezos will join three other astronauts for a 62 mile trip into the sky on Wednesday aboard Jeff Bezos’s rocket, pictured 

Shatner is famed for playing Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series, and is pictured in the 1960s with his co-star Leonard Nimoy

He will shatter the record set in July by astronaut Wally Funk, 82, who flew aboard Blue Origin’s inaugural flight with Bezos himsef.

But Shatner said he was wary of the plaudit, telling the crowd: ‘I don’t want to be the oldest guy in space. “I’m Captain Kirk!”’ 

Shatner’s flight on Blue Origin, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, pictured, will see him shatter the record for oldest person in space set by astronaut Wally Funk, 82, in July 

Funk is pictured furthest right on July 20, the day before she blasted off into space aged 82 

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket has been confirmed for the mission by bosses at the space firm, with Shatner and his fellow astronauts now undergoing training.  

Shatner’s fellow passengers will be NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, healthcare entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers.

The flight will be fully-automated, meaning that there won’t be a pilot on board.  

Bezos is planning to charge passengers $250,000-a-ticket to take the trip into space, with Blue Origin also planning on launching a low cost broadband system. 

He is part of the so-called ‘Billionaire’s Space Race,’ which has also seen Richard Branson and Elon Musk successfully fly into orbit.

Branson was aboard Virgin Galactic’s inaugural flight on July 11, 10 days before Bezos took to space.

His firm will charge astronauts $450,000 each to head into space.

Tesla boss Musk’s SpaceX first launch was in December 2010. 

It launched an all-civilian crew into orbit last month, but is continuing to focus on working with NASA and preparing for a Mars mission, rather than just offering space tourism.  


Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.

Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.

The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.

Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.

SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman. 

His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station. 

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency. 

SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas. 

Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.

Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.    

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff. 

Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9. 

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