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Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket 'go' to launch William Shatner and crew to space

Blue Origin's NS-18 crew, starring "Star Trek" captain William Shatner, is officially "go" for a real-life spaceflight on Wednesday (Oct. 13).

The private spaceflight company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos cleared its suborbital New Shepard rocket and capsule to launch Shatner and three other passengers on a suborbital ride over Texas. Liftoff is now set for 10 a.m. EDT (9 a.m. CDT/ 1400 GMT) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One near the town of Van Horn in West Texas.

"New Shepard is go for launch!" Blue Origin announced via Twitter today (Oct. 12). The mission team has completed the Flight Readiness Evaluation prior to #NS18. This is our final meeting with the engineers and Mission Control team to ensure all systems are go for launch."

Live updates: Follow William Shatner's Blue Origin launch here
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"Star Trek" actor William Shatner (second from left) poses for a crew photo with his NS-18 crewmates and their Blue Origin New Shepard rocket ahead of a planned Oct. 13, 2021 launch. His crewmates are: (from left) Audrey Powers of Blue Origin; Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and  Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata Solutions. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

The mission will launch about 30 minutes later than previously planned due to wind concerns, the company said.

"Today, astronauts are getting familiar with the launch tower, redundant safety features of the #NewShepard crew capsule, as well as, ingress and egress procedures. Astronaut training will be completed at the end of the day," the thread continued.

Related: Blue Origin's launch of William Shatner explained

A brief YouTube interview Tuesday (Oct. 12) with Nick Patrick, lead flight director and former NASA space shuttle astronaut, indicated that there were no major changes in recent days besides the weather, which has pushed off two launch attempts already.

"We had a small meeting this morning to go over any changes, and there's really nothing to report from that meeting other than things that still go for launch tomorrow," said Patrick in the status update.

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Patrick also explained that the training the astronauts are undergoing will do three things: training them on the safety systems, getting them used to "unexpected aspects" of spaceflight such as noises or acceleration, and teaching the crew "how to behave in zero-G", such as avoiding kicking each other while floating. 

Despite the fact the training only lasts a few hours, Patrick said the experts "give a great training presentation" and that it will be enough to get the crew, all non-professional astronauts, ready for space.

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Several crew members shared their excitement on Twitter. Shatner, a prolific Twitter user at age 90, said he won't be able to bring his phone with him, but he has other arrangements planned.

We also heard from Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of clinical research software platform Medidata Solutions, whose tweets paid tribute to the four crew members (which also includes Blue Origin senior executive Audrey Powers.)

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.