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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket for the fifth time this year on Wednesday, and Canadian actor William Shatner joined the company’s second manned spaceflight to date.
This New Shepard mission, called NS-18, led a crew of four: Shatner, Blue Origin VP of Mission and Flight Operations Audrey Powers, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries.
It took off at about 10:50 a.m. ET.
The crew of NS-18, from left: Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Dr. Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries.
Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original television series “Star Trek”, is 90 years old and the oldest person to fly into space, starting with a crew in July.
The rocket launched from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas and reached over 100,000 kilometers (or more than 340,000 feet in altitude) before safely returning to Earth a few minutes later. The start took about 11 minutes from start to finish. The crew experienced weightlessness for about three minutes.
Star Trek actor William Shatner, along with former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin Vice President and Engineer Audrey Powers receives NS-18 from Blue prior to their suborbital flight on New Shepard’s NS-18 mission Origin near Van Horn, Texas, USA in a still from a video broadcast on October 13, 2021.
Blue origin | Reuters
The New Shepard capsule accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound to exceed the 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) limit that the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The capsule will be flown autonomously without a human pilot and returned under a set of parachutes for landing in the Texas desert.
The New Shepard rocket booster is also reusable and landed on a concrete platform near the launch site. NS-18 was the fourth take-off and landing for this booster.
The company also flies New Shepard for cargo missions, as in Augustcarrying research payloads in the capsule.
The NS-18 crew returns in the New Shepard capsule.