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William Shatner eager to see 'vastness of space' when he launches with Blue Origin

William Shatner will fly to space with Blue Origin on Oct. 12, 2021. (Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The original "Star Trek" captain, William Shatner, is contemplating the "vastness of space" ahead of his real-life journey to the final frontier on Oct. 12. 

The 90-year-old Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk on "Star Trek: The Original Series," which launched one of the most successful sci-fi franchises in history, will launch to space Oct. 12 aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital  vehicle. A week out from leaving Earth (and gaining the title of the oldest person to ever go to space), Shatner shared his thoughts and feelings about going to space on the NBC's "Today Show." 

"We talk about space and what weightless conditions are, the enormity of the universe and the absolute jewel of a little thing we call the Earth," Shatner said. "I'm going to see the vastness of space and the extraordinary miracle of our Earth and how fragile it is compared to the forces at work in the universe … that's really what I'm looking for."

Shatner will launch along with three other passengers at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT) on Oct. 12 from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West Texas.

Live updates: William Shatner's Blue Origin launch on New Shepard

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This will be Blue Origin's second crewed launch to space. The first one, which lifted off on July 20,  carried the company's founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos; his brother Mark Bezos; aviator Wally Funk; and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen on a brief but successful flight above the Kármán line —an internationally recognized boundary of space 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth's surface — and back to Earth. 

An average suborbital flight with New Shepard lasts a total of 11 minutes from start to finish, with approximately four minutes of weightlessness while in space. 

Other companies are also developing suborbital space tourism programs, with Virgin Galactic also flying passengers to space aboard its VSS Unity spaceplane. Ahead of Blue Origin's July 20 launch, Virgin Galactic lifted off with its first crewed spaceflight, sending four passengers — including billionaire Virgin Group founder Richard Branson — to suborbital space and back. 

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Chelsea Gohd

Chelsea Gohd joined as an intern in the summer of 2018 and returned as a Staff Writer in 2019. After receiving a B.S. in Public Health, she worked as a science communicator at the American Museum of Natural History and even wrote an installation for the museum's permanent Hall of Meteorites. Chelsea has written for publications including Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine, Live Science, All That is Interesting, AMNH Microbe Mondays blog, The Daily Targum and Roaring Earth. When not writing, reading or following the latest space and science discoveries, Chelsea is writing music and performing as her alter ego Foxanne (@foxannemusic). You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd.