New Delhi: William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk in the Star Trek original series, blasted off into space on Wednesday, October 13, as part of the New Shepard Crewed Flight.
At 90 years of age, William Shatner has become the oldest man to go to space. This happens 50 years after his debut as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek original series.
Shatner, accompanied by three other crew members, launched into space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-18, from Launch Site One.
Due to the high winds forecast on Tuesday, the liftoff from Blue Origin’s West Texas Launch Site One was rescheduled to 10 am EDT (7:30 pm IST). It was later delayed Wednesday by at least 45 minutes.
The flight will last for 10 minutes and reach an altitude of 66.5 miles, and like the previous crewed mission of Blue Origin, this too will be a suborbital flight.
The flight will last approximately 11 minutes from liftoff to capsule landing. Astronauts will experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and travel above the Kármán Line, which is the internationally recognised boundary of space.
The mission team completed the Flight Readiness Evaluation prior to the launch, Blue Origin mentioned in a tweet on Tuesday.
Lead Flight Director Nick Patrick provided a status update on the NS-18 mission and their approach to safety to Ariane Cornell, Director of Astronaut and Orbital Sales, Blue Origin.
The weather appeared good for a Wednesday launch as forecasted winds had subsided.
A day before launch, the astronauts got familiar with the launch tower, redundant safety features of the New Shepard crew capsule, and the ingress and egress procedures, and completed the astronaut training.
At T minus 7.5 hours, the rocket rolled out to the launch pad. Blue Origin tweeted at 4:43 pm that New Shepard was getting ready for the second crewed mission.
At T minus 3 hours, the propellant started being loaded into the rocket.
At T minus 45 minutes, the crew departed to Astronaut Training Center and moved to the launch tower to go through preparations for crew capsule ingress.
At 5:33 pm IST, Blue Origin tweeted that the NS-18 crew had arrived at Launch Site One and we’re getting suited up for liftoff.
At 7:16 pm, Blue Origin tweeted that the crew was headed to the launch tower for final preparations and capsule load. After this, the crew capsule hatch was closed.
The Terminal Count Ready Report from Mission control came at T minus 10 minutes.
The NS-18 crew members were also seen moving across the crew access gantry and getting strapped in for their ride. The four-person crew entered the capsule at T minus 24 minutes.
“The #NewShepard hatch is closed. Final checks are underway. #NS18”, Blue Origin tweeted at 7:45 pm IST. This happened eight minutes later than the official time at which the hatch was scheduled to be closed.
A special coin ceremony was also held.
Who are the other crew members?
Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata solutions; and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission and Flight Operations, are the other crew members of NS-18.
Chris’s career has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of space and igniting youth excitement in pursuing careers in STEM.
Glen de Vries is an experienced pilot and he flew himself to Launch Site One.
Audrey Powers has been at Blue Origin since 2013 and is the most familiar with the New Shepard vehicle and its operations. Powers had 2000 hours on the console for the International Space Station and is a pilot, engineer, sponsor of the New Mercury resource group at Blue, and Chair of Commerical Spaceflight Federation.
It took many years to certify New Shephard for human flight, and Powers played an important role in the process.