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William Shatner blasts off to where no 90-year-old has gone before: space

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, has blasted into space in a convergence of science fiction and science reality.

Shatner set out Wednesday morning for the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The Star Trek hero is the oldest person to ride a rocket.

Star Trek actor William Shatner rings a bell before boarding Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on mission NS-18 for a suborbital flight near Van Horn, Texas in a still image from video October 13, 2021. (Blue Origin/Reuters)

It was Blue Origin’s second passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Bezos used for his own launch three months ago. The trip lasted just 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule reaching a maximum altitude of about 106 kilometres before parachuting back into the desert.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson kicked off the U.S.-based space tourism boom on July 11, riding his rocketship to space. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk stayed behind as his SpaceX company launched its first private flight last month, sending a billionaire, a cancer survivor and two ticket winners into orbit.

And last week, the Russians sent an actor and film director to the International Space Station for movie-making.

“We’re just at the beginning, but how miraculous that beginning is. How extraordinary it is to be part of that beginning,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted on the eve of his flight. “It looks like there’s a great deal of curiosity about this fictional character, Captain Kirk, going into space. So let’s go along with it and enjoy the ride.”

Rounding out the crew were a Blue Origin vice-president and two entrepreneurs who bid unsuccessfully for a seat on the previous flight with Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Blue Origin did not divulge their ticket prices.

Bezos was at the expansive launch and landing site near Van Horn, Texas, to see the four off.

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