In late September 2021, rumors started flying about William Shatner going to space. TMZ reported that their sources said Shatner would be hopping aboard one of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins spaceships to head into suborbital space.
Neither Shatner nor Bezos confirmed the rumors, though. This was particularly odd since Shatner shares all his big news with his fans via his Twitter account.
A few days later, Shatner was asked directly about the potential space flight on a radio interview and finally explained why he hadn’t said anything yet. Shatner revealed that he was couldn’t talk about the details yet because he was “in the middle of something.” Though he didn’t explicitly say so, his statement suggested that he and Bezos were still working out the details.
Now, Shatner has finally confirmed that he is, in fact, headed into space. Here’s everything we know so far.
Blue Origin Announces the Space Flight
Just after 9 am on October 4, the official Blue Origin Twitter account revealed that the NS18 flight crew will include both the company’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers and Shatner. Within an hour, Shatner quote tweeted Blue Origins tweet and informed his followers that he will become a “rocket man” soon.
Shatner’s fans immediately responded, congratulating him on the momentous achievement. He quote tweeted a few of these messages and added his own commentary, mostly emoji. Several celebrities, including Stephen Fry, Lynda Carter, Tom Bergeron, and Vincent D’Onofrio, congratulated him as well and Shatner replied to each of them expressing his gratitude.
One of the fan tweets he quote tweeted asked when his historic flight will take place. Shatner replied that he will be headed into space next week!
The Details of the New Shepard NS-18 Space Flight
On its website, Blue Origin revealed all the details about the New Shepard NS-18 space flight. The ship will launch from Launch Site One in West Texas on October 12, 2021, at 8:30 am Central Time. The first human-crewed Blue Origin space flight launched from the same place in July of 2021.
Wally Funk was one of the people on that space flight, and at 82 years old, she set the record for the oldest person to visit space. Assuming everything goes well with Shatner’s trip, Funk’s record will be short-lived. At 90, Shatner will steal the record for the oldest person to travel to space. He told the team at Blue Origin that the opportunity to see space after hearing about it for so long was “a miracle.”
The New Shepard NS-18 will be live-streamed on the Blue Origin website. Anyone who’d like to the historic event can tune in starting 90 minutes before the scheduled launch.
Is Shatner Healthy Enough to go to Space?
Some have wondered whether Shatner is even healthy enough to go into space given his age. The Daily Beast explored this question with Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, an expert in space medicine. Urquieta told the publication that Both the cardiovascular system and the central nervous systems face huge stresses when a person is subjected to the kind of force it takes to get into space. So, the heart and the nervous system both have to be healthy and robust for a person to safely head into space.
The biggest risks for older folks in space are heart problems and issues with their inner ears, which regulate balance. The likelihood of health problems related to the heart and inner ear naturally rises as we age. So, these would be the things to look out for.
Urquieta, who has not treated Shatner, said that he didn’t think there was much cause for concern though. He stated that Blue Origin has its own medical team that’s responsible for screening people before they head to space and that Shatner would not be going if he hadn’t been cleared by the company’s doctors.
So, it looks like Shatner is all ready to boldly go where very few have gone before!
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