William Shatner, the actor famous for his role as the Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk, will have a chance to go to space today for real as he joins Blue Origin’s New Shepard Mission NS-18. He’s not going to explore strange new worlds, and he won’t be on a five-year mission – he’ll be in space for mere minutes but it’s very nice that he gets an opportunity to go to space himself especially given his role in encouraging people’s interest in space.
Blue Origin will be streaming the event from 12:30 p.m. UTC (8:30 a.m. ET / 5:30 a.m. PT) on YouTube with coverage beginning 90 minutes before the launch is due. As is the case with these types of events, commentators will be on-hand to explain exactly what’s happening throughout the flight; it’s not just a simple case of launching the rocket but the launch sequence goes through several stages, all of which the commentators will explain as the mission progresses.
The flight today will take the crew just past the Kármán line which is situated 62 miles above the Earth. By some estimations, this is the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space but in reality, the boundary is very fuzzy. The crew will stay in space for about 10 minutes before making the trip back to Earth. During that time, the crew will be able to unbuckle their belts and experience low gravity.
Shatner will be joined on the flight by Audrey Powers – Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Glen de Vries – a co-founder of the medical research platform Medidata Solutions and Chris Boshuizen – a NASA researcher who became a tech entrepreneur. The latter two crew members paid $250,000 for their tickets while Shatner was invited onto the flight by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.