By Mike Blake
VAN HORN, Texas, Oct 13 (Reuters) – American billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin is set to make its second suborbital sightseeing flight on Wednesday, with actor William Shatner – who starred in the TV series and movies of “Star Trek- among the four members of the civilian crew taking off from Texas.
Shatner, 90, will become the oldest person to ever travel into space. He and his fellow crew members will take off at 9 a.m. local time (1400 GMT) aboard the fully autonomous New Shepard spacecraft, which is 18.3 meters high, from the Blue Origin launch site about 32 kilometers to the west of the Texas town of Van Horn.
Joining Shatner will be former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin Vice President and Engineer Audrey Powers https://bit.ly/2YIpFG4, on a tour expected to last close to 10 minutes.
New Shepard is expected to carry passengers more than 60 miles above Earth, allowing them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the crew capsule returns to the Texas desert on a parachute. The flight, previously scheduled for Tuesday, was delayed one day for wind-related reasons https://reut.rs/3BFprgO.
All four crew members received training on Tuesday and the mission team completed a flight readiness assessment to ensure “all systems are ready for launch,” Blue Origin said on Twitter.
Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight on July 20, with Bezos and three other crew members reaching the edge of space and returning on a journey that lasted 10 minutes and 10 seconds. On that flight, aviation pioneer Wally Funk became the oldest person to reach space, at 82 years old.
Bezos, founder and current CEO of Amazon.com Inc, created Blue Origin two decades ago.
Shatner, who turned 90 in March, has been an actor since the 1950s and is still busy with amateur projects and conventions. He is best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise in the classic 1960s television series “Star Trek” and seven films about fictional adventures in outer space.
Shatner said there is some irony and symmetry to his space travel, because he played a space explorer for decades and is now becoming one.
“This is no piece of cake,” Shatner told CBS Mornings. “I want to see space. I want to see Earth. I want to see what we need to do to save Earth. I want to have a perspective that has not been shown to me before,” Shatner said.
(Reporting by Mike Blake; additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Edited in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)