William Shatner: hardest part of space flight will be getting in and out of seat

The toughest part of going into space with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company, the Star Trek actor William Shatner said, will be getting in and out of his chair in the New Shepard spacecraft.

Shatner, 90, will become the oldest person to go into space when he blasts off as part of a four-person crew on Wednesday, a day later than planned thanks to wind conditions at the launchpad in west Texas.

“The only thing about age that has application to this particular vehicle is getting in and out of the seat with any kind of arthritis,” Shatner told reporters on Monday.

“So unless you’re really supple, getting in and out of the seats in weight, when we’re in gravity, is a chore. But of course it’s designed [for us] to float out of the seat, in weightlessness.”

Asked how he was feeling ahead of the launch, Shatner, who previously claimed to be “terrified”, said he felt “comfortable that I’m also uncomfortable. I’ll be very happy when we go up and we’re in weightlessness that we know is safe, because everything else should be all right.

“And we’ll have that moment of inspiration, which I feel will be there when we’re looking into the vastness of the universe.”

Shatner’s presence is a public relations coup for Bezos, whose space flight company has been accused of sexism in the workplace while current and former employees have raised safety concerns.

Like Elon Musk of SpaceX and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Bezos and Blue Origin aim to sell rides into space for profit. Concerns have also been raised over the environmental impact of this private space race.

Bezos travelled on Blue Origin’s first flight in July, with his brother, the former test pilot Wally Funk, at 82 then the oldest person in space, and the youngest, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old paying customer.

Shatner will be joined on his brief spurt past the Kármán Line, an internationally recognized space boundary about 62 miles up, by Chris Boshuizen, a former Nasa engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, an executive at a French software company, Dassault Systèmes; and Audrey Powers, vice-president of mission and flight operations at Blue Origin.

Comments are closed.