This year marks the 55th anniversary of William Shatner’s debut as Cap. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek,” but Shatner himself has been resolutely earthbound until now. That’s about to change.
Now 90 years old, Shatner is scheduled to fly to space on the second flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, the one owned and operated by Amazon titan Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin aerospace company. The date is set for October 12, 2021.
TMZ broke the news and claims that Shatner and his representatives are negotiating to film the experience for a television special, a show that seems like a no-brainer for one of the dozens of streaming services trying to capture our subscription dollars.
Will space travel be safe for a 90-year-old astronaut? What kind of training is required for a Blue Origin flight? Will the experience be worth the risk for Shatner? Anyone who’s seen 91-year-old Clint Eastwood tottering through his new movie, “Cry Macho,” is going to have more than a few concerns about Shatner.
NASA should’ve invited Shatner and Leonard Nimoy along on a space shuttle flight back in the day. They could’ve at least taken them up in the proof-of-concept Enterprise for one of the test landings. Bezos, 57, is exactly the right age to have grown up on after-school reruns of “Star Trek,” and it’s taken him this long to build the spaceship that Capt. Kirk deserves. At this point, infinite Trekkie points go to Bezos.
Bezos took the first Blue Origin flight in July with his brother Mark, test pilot Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teenager who was gifted the trip by someone who won an auction to buy the seat.
Of course, there’s a loud contingent who don’t think Bezos’ 66.5-mile altitude should qualify as a space flight, but the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration disagree. They say that anything above 50 miles counts as space flight. The Bezos flights still qualify if you want to use the international space organization FAI’s Kármán Line instead, because that one requires a 62-mile altitude to qualify.
Of course, Bezos has taunted fellow billionaire Richard Branson after Branson’s own Virgin Intergalactic flight only exceeded the USAF altitude and not the Kármán Line. Neither Bezos nor Branson has realized that combining their efforts might lead to greater achievements for humanity. And let’s not bring up fellow billionaire space cowboy Elon Musk. There’s no way he’s going to cooperate with the other rich guys.
Maybe Shatner will be able to share some Federation wisdom with Bezos up there in space and convince the entrepreneur that humanity has to band together and make peace so we can work together when the Klingons show up.
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