Captain Kirk and his three traveling companions made it. They went into space, albeit for a brief ballistic launch. Feeling weightlessness for 4 minutes and 37 seconds.
Perhaps the suit he wears in this extraordinary feat of his is somewhat reminiscent of the one seen in hundreds of episodes of the famous TV series (and later on the big screen) “Star Trek”. The fact is that actor William Shatner, the famous “Captain James T. Kirk”, at 90, has taken a lot of satisfaction. First of all, that of going into space for real. Of course, we are not at the level of the fantastic journeys of the spaceship “Enterprise” in the galaxy, between various star systems and more or less inhabited planets. But it was still a “leap” between the stars. And then, that of the oldest man in space. At 90, he beat the 77-year-old John Glenn, the first legendary American in orbit, who flew the Shuttle in 1990. Although Glenn went into orbit and for a proper space mission, after a long training.
Different realities. But it is still a spatial quota: those 107 kilometers of today that give an individual the “certification” of having been in space. A step among the stars, after the launch of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shepard rocket, which after having tested the rocket and capsule last July 20 in person, and with his brother, now grants the 4 seats on board to his new guests paying.
A rather high price: no less than 10 million dollars for a stroll among the stars, with 4 milks and 35 seconds of imponderability. That is, all to float in the capsule to admire the Earth from up there behind the largest windows ever built for a spacecraft.
And so the Blue Origin Ns-18 mission was launched today at 16.50 Italian time, and then landed the capsule surrounded by windows autonomously, and with the capsule and its occupants descending on Texan ground by parachute.
A rocket that bears the name of Alan Shepard, the first American to have challenged space with a suborbital flight like those of the current Bezos launches. But Shepard (who died of an incurable disease in 1998 at the age of 74), made a ballistic launch, reaching almost 200 kilometers in height, landing 500 kilometers from the starting point in Cape Canaveral, and above all manually piloting his rudimentary capsule, which then it will be used to carry Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra and Cooper into orbit for many hours, one by one. A well-rounded astronaut. The occupants of the Blue Origin vehicle are “star tourists” who have reached a spatial altitude and return without having to perform any particular intervention, although of course they undergo severe medical examinations and a series of physical tests before their launches. After 60 years, technology has made great strides, and now a spacecraft can really do it all by itself.
“It was since 1976 that I hoped and dreamed of going to space” – said Shatner – “that is, since I went, together with the entire Star Trek team of actors, to attend the presentation of the first Space Shuttle, at Rockwell, Palmdale. . The first shuttle was in fact called Enterprise, like the spaceship in our films, due to a popular competition. Some Nasa officials told me that tourists would soon fly on the shuttle, including actors, artists, journalists, etc. I would have immediately applied. But then things went differently and luckily Bezos thought about making my dream come true, and I hope it is for many other space exploration enthusiasts like me ”.
On board, in addition to Shatner, 3 other “star tourists” have risen to space: Blue Origin’s vice president for flight operations, Audrey Powers and entrepreneurs Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries. at the highest point, the Karman line at a height of 100 km, ideally considered the threshold of space.
For Blue Origin it is the second flight with a real crew after that of 20 July 2021, in which Jeff Bezos himself took part together with his brother Mark, 82-year-old Wally Funk and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
And the third launch is already ready, perhaps by the end of the year. And other news are awaited regarding the VIPs who could occupy one of the precious seats of the rocket capsule dedicated to the legendary Alan Shepard.