Star Trek's William Shatner set to be oldest person to fly to space

Actor William Shatner, as Kirk, commanded the USS Enterprise on a five-year mission "to explore strange new worlds". PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Space company Blue Origin on Monday (Oct 4) confirmed actor William Shatner, who starred as Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series (1966 to 1969), will be aboard its crewed rocket on Oct 12, becoming the oldest ever person to fly to space.

"I've heard about space for a long time now. I'm taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle," said the 90-year-old actor in a statement by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos's space company.

The science fiction television show aired for only three seasons starting in 1966, but was hugely influential in popular culture and spawned several movies and spin-off series.

It was notable for the utopian vision of its creator Gene Rodenberry, who envisaged a society where humanity had put aside its divisions and united with other peaceful space-faring civilisations.

Shatner, as Kirk, commanded the USS Enterprise on a five-year mission "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before".

His actual voyage to space will be far shorter - about 10 minutes, in a flight that will take the crew just beyond the Karman Line 100km above the Earth.

Blue Origin also announced the identity of the remaining passenger, Ms Audrey Powers, the company's vice- president of mission and flight operations.

They will join Mr Chris Boshuizen, a former engineer of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Mr Glen de Vries, a co-founder of clinical research platform Medidata Solutions, on the sub-orbital flight.

The news comes as Mr Bezos's company is under a cloud of allegations relating to a "toxic" work culture with rampant sexual harassment.

The claims, firmly rejected by Blue Origin, were outlined in a lengthy blog post signed by Ms Alexandra Abrams, the company's former head of employee communications, last week.

The post said it also represented the views of 20 other workers and ex-workers in various divisions who wanted to remain anonymous.

Ms Abrams and her co-authors further alleged the company had a pattern of decision-making that prioritised speedy rocket development over safety, and that several of them would not feel safe in the company's New Shepard rocket.

Mr Bezos, the world's wealthiest man, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk and paying customer Oliver Daemen flew into space on Blue Origin's first crewed flight on July 20.

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