Actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the science fiction series Star Trek, traveled into space Wednesday aboard the New Shepard rocket, developed by billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.
At 90 years old, Shatner has become the oldest person to travel into space.
Shatner alongside three other astronauts: two paid space travelers — Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of the nanosatellite company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of a clinical research platform — and Audrey Powers, vice president of Missions and Flight Operations at Blue Origin.
New Shepard departed West Texas more than an hour late, at 09:50 local time (14:50 GMT), contrary to the original plan.
The space travelers were placed in a capsule at the top of the rocket that rose to a height of more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) before returning to Earth, a journey that lasted about 10 minutes.
Once in space, the capsule detached from the rocket before descending safely.
Upon his return to Earth, Shatner tweeted a quote from Isaac Newton: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
Once they touched down on Earth, the space travelers were greeted by Bezos himself, who embraced them as they exited the capsule.
Shatner was visibly moved by the experience and told Bezos that he hopes he will never forget what he felt.
“It’s the most profound experience I can imagine,” the actor told Bezos, while noting how he had seen “the vulnerability of the air” that keeps humanity alive.
Shatner flew for the first time in real life into space, after doing so in fiction aboard the mythical ship “Enterprise” in the series “Star Trek”, which aired its first episode in 1966 and lasted three seasons.
Later, the artist returned to play Captain Kirk in six films between 1979 and 1991.
This flight comes after the 18.2-meter-high rocket was tested 15 times without a crew, before making its maiden voyage with people on board on July 20, with Bezos himself, his brother Mark and two other passengers.
The capsule is called New Shepard in honor of Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space in 1961 and one of the astronauts to set foot on the Moon.