The original “Star Trek” captain, a Blue Origin vice-president, a co-founder of Planet Labs and a co-founder of a medical research platform will all rocket to space on a Blue Origin flight no earlier than Oct. 12.
Actor William Shatner who is best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” that premiered in 1966, now 90, will fly to the real final frontier with Blue Origin’s upcoming crewed spaceflight aboard the company’s New Shepard spacecraft.
This will be the second-ever crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin after its inaugural crewed flight launched founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on a 10-minute trip to space and back on July 20, will stream live on BlueOrigin.com, starting 90 minutes before launch.
Liftoff is currently targeted for 8:30 am local time (9:30 a.m. EDT or 13:30 GMT) from Launch Site One in West Texas. That said, the Federal Aviation Administration may launch a review concerning Blue Origin’s safety and culture practices after criticisms emerged in media reports a few days ago.
Learn more about Shatner and the rest of his New Shepard NS-18 crew:
Shatner has been acting for 60 years and, in addition to his “Star Trek” fame, is known for singing and for his accomplishments in horsemanship.
In his most famous role as Capt. Kirk in “Star Trek,” he has made seven appearances on the big screen in feature films on top of three seasons on network television. At age 90, Shatner will be the oldest person to reach space, beating the record set by 82-year-old aviator and Mercury 13 member Wally Funk who set her record as part of Blue Origin’s debut flight in July. (The oldest person to reach orbit remains 77-year-old John Glenn, a former NASA astronaut who joined NASA’s shuttle mission STS-95 working on aging research in 1998.)
Some of Shatner’s other space-related appearances over the years include cameos in several “Star Trek” documentaries, a recurring role in “The Twilight Zone” pre-“Star Trek,” an appearance in a 1964 episode of “The Outer Limits” and a recurring role in “3rd Rock from the Sun” from 1999 to 2000. Shatner is also well-known for his recurring and main role in “The Practice” and “Boston Legal” in the 2000s, as Denny Crane. Shatner has also published a number of books and released an assortment of music over the years.
“I’ve heard about space for a long time now. I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle,” Shatner said in an Oct. 4 Blue Origin statement.
Audrey Powers is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations and has been with the company since 2013. She is responsible for all New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance and infrastructure for launch, landing and ground support, according to her Blue Origin biography.
Powers also was one of the leads in certifying New Shepard for flight. Unlike the other passengers, who are paying for their seats, Powers appears to be joining the crew in her official company capacity as part of getting New Shepard ready for other flight opportunities.
Previously with Blue Origin, Powers has held the positions of deputy general counsel and vice-president of legal and compliance. She has also worked in the space industry as an engineer and as a lawyer. Powers is a former flight controller for NASA and served at the console for 2,000 hours in Mission Control for the International Space Station program. In addition to her work at Blue Origin, Powers is a pilot and is the chair of the board of directors for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“I’m so proud and humbled to fly on behalf of Team Blue, and I’m excited to continue writing Blue’s human spaceflight history,” Powers said in the same Oct. 4 Blue Origin statement. “As an engineer and lawyer with more than two decades of experience in the aerospace industry, I have great confidence in our New Shepard team and the vehicle we’ve developed,” she added.
Chris Boshuizen co-founded Planet Labs (today known as Planet) in 2010 and served as the company’s chief technology officer for five years. Planet has now launched more than 450 satellites to perform mapping of the Earth from space. Between 2008 and 2012, Boshuizen was a space mission architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where he co-invented an orbital satellite adapted from a smartphone, called the NASA Phonesat.
His other work includes establishing Singularity University (which examines technological development and its consequences), organizing several international space conferences and serving as the first executive director of the Space Generation Advisory Council.
“This is a fulfillment of my greatest childhood dream,” Boshuizen said Sept. 27 in a Blue Origin statement, when he was announced as a crew member. “More importantly, though, I see this flight as an opportunity to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] and catalyze the next generation of space explorers. After all, our future of life in space is in their very capable hands.”
Glen de Vries
Glen de Vries is a co-founder of Medidata Solutions, which creates software that has been used for more than 25,000 clinical trials for items ranging from vaccines to rare disease. De Vries is also vice-chair of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, which acquired Medidata in 2019, and trustee of Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a private pilot.
“Playing a part in advancing the space industry and one day making those resources and that understanding available to everyone, is an incredible opportunity,” De Vries said in a Sept. 27 Blue Origin statement, when he was announced as a crew member. “I’ve been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true.”