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William Shatner about to explode in space aboard the Blue Origin rocket

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VAN HORN, TX (AP) – Hollywood Captain Kirk William Shatner, 90, boarded a rocket with three other passengers for a real trip to space on Wednesday, thanks to “Star Trek fan” », Jeff Bezos.

The four began to arm themselves for a morning launch from West Texas on a trip that should only take 10 minutes, with the fully automated capsule ready to reach an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers). ) before returning by parachute to the desert floor.

Bezos’ space travel company Blue Origin invited Shatner on a jaunt to the Last Frontier, a mission that would make him the oldest person in space.

Bezos himself drove the four to the pad and was with them on the platform above the ground as they boarded the 60-foot rocket. The capsule, New Shepard, was named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard.

“It’s a pinching moment for all of us to see Captain James Tiberius Kirk go into space,” said Jacki Cortese, Blue Origin launch commentator, before take off. She said that she, like so many others, was drawn to the space sector by shows like “Star Trek”.

This was Blue Origin’s second scheduled passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket Bezos used for its own launch three months ago.

Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic kicked off the US-based space tourism boom in July, piloting his own rocket into space. Bezos followed nine days later aboard his own capsule. Elon Musk remained behind as his company SpaceX launched its first sightseeing flight last month.

And last week the Russians sent an actor and director to the International Space Station to make films.

“We are only at the beginning, but how miraculous this start is. How amazing to be a part of this debut, ”Shatner said in a Blue Origin video posted the day before his flight.

To complete the crew: a vice president of Blue Origin and two entrepreneurs. Blue Origin has not disclosed the price of its tickets. Shatner was invited to ride for free.

Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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