A Blue Origin rocket successfully took four passengers a few minutes into space on Wednesday, including a cult celebrity for generations of enthusiasts: William Shatner, the famous Captain Kirk of the Star Trek series, become at 90 the oldest person to reach the final frontier.
It was “the most intense experience” imaginable, the Canadian actor said after landing, recounting his journey to Blue Origin boss billionaire Jeff Bezos, who came to greet them on their return to Earth. “I am so moved (…) It’s extraordinary. “Everyone has to do this,” added William Shatner.
Jeff Bezos on the move
It was the second manned rocket flight from the company of Jeff Bezos, which intends to establish itself as a key player in the coveted space tourism sector. On board were also two entrepreneurs who paid for the trip, and a manager from Blue Origin. The Amazon founder himself closed the capsule hatch before takeoff, and reopened it after a successful landing. He too had made the trip to space aboard this vehicle in July.
The rocket took off vertically on Wednesday, then the capsule broke off in flight, and thus propelled, passed the Karman line which marks, at an altitude of 100 km, the border of space according to the international convention. It then began a free fall to fall back to Earth, slowed down in particular by three huge parachutes. The flight lasted only about ten minutes. Take-off had been postponed for a few tens of minutes in order to carry out final checks.
Two passengers paid for the flight
Besides the Canadian actor, three other passengers were on board. Chris Boshuizen is a former NASA engineer and the co-founder of Planet Labs, an American company that photographs the Earth in high resolution every day using satellites.
Glen de Vries is the co-founder of Medidata Solutions, a company specializing in clinical trial monitoring software for the pharmaceutical industry. Both paid for the trip (the amount was not disclosed). Finally, Audrey Powers, a manager of Blue Origin responsible in particular for flight operations and maintenance of the rocket, completed the crew.