October 4, 2021
Blue Origin confirmed on Monday that legendary Star Trek actor William Shatner would be a part of the company’s next space tourism flight later this month, becoming the oldest person to visit space.
At the age of 90, Shatner will surpass Mary Wallace ‘Wally’ Funk as the oldest person to head into space.
The 82-year-old Funk headed into space on Blue Origin’s first human flight on July 20.
Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, Audrey Powers, will also join the crew, which includes the previously announced Dr Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries into space on the New Shepard rocket.
‘I’ve heard about space for a long time now,’ said Shatner, known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the sci-fic series, in a statement obtained by.
‘I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.’
Powers, who joined the company in 2013 and oversees New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing, and ground support infrastructure, said she was ‘excited’ to be a continuing part of history.
‘I’m so proud and humbled to fly on behalf of Team Blue, and I’m excited to continue writing Blue’s human spaceflight history,’ Powers explained.
‘I was part of the amazing effort we assembled for New Shepard’s Human Flight Certification Review, a years-long initiative completed in July 2021.
‘As an engineer and lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we’ve developed.’
Liftoff on the New Shepard rocket is currently being targeted for 8:30 am CDT/ 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas on October 12.
Shatner reportedly will part of a documentary of the 15-minute civilian flight, according to TMZ, which first broke the news of the actor’s involvement last month.
The news comes a few days after 21 current and former Blue Origin employees penned a scathing essay, questioning company founder Jeff Bezos for creating a ‘toxic’ work environment where the company sacrificed safety to work at ‘breakneck speed’ in order to win the billionaire space race.
In an essay published on Thursday, Alexandra Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, along with 20 employees said the priority was to ‘make progress for Jeff’ as he competed with Elon Musk and Richard Branson to make it to space first.
They claimed that the most common question at high-level meetings was: ‘When will Elon or Branson fly?’ and safety concerns were ignored because they would have ‘slowed progress’.
‘Progress at Blue Origin was smooth and steady and slow, until Jeff started getting impatient that Elon and Branson were getting ahead, and then we started feeling this increasing pressure and impatience that would filter down from leadership,’ Abrams told CBS Mornings on Thursday.
Ultimately, Branson flew to the edge of space first, on July 11 – nine days ahead of Bezos. Musk, who leads SpaceX, has not flown into space himself, but his company sent four civilians into space on September 15, flying 360 miles above the Earth.
Blue Origin’s first flight, which occurred on July 20, saw company founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and test pilot, Wally Funk, head into space.
Funk became the oldest person to ever fly to space at 82 years old.
At 18 years old, Daemen became the youngest person, first teenager, and first person born in the 21st century to travel to space.
Oliver’s father, Joes Daemen, who founded private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners, bought the seat aboard the flight for over $20 million at auction.