Star Trek star William Shatner (Canada, b. 22 March 1931) has frequented the furthest corners and deepest depths of space on screen as Captain James T. Kirk, but he has now travelled into space in real life – breaking a world record in the process.
Shatner, at the age of 90 years 205 days, has become the oldest person in space (male), breaking a record that has stood for almost 23 years.
The previous record holder was John Glenn Jr. (USA, b. 18 July 1921), who was 77 years 103 days old when he was launched into space as part of the crew of Discovery STS-95 on 29 October 1998.
Before the flight, he was understandably anxious as well as excited.
"I feel comfortable, but I’m also uncomfortable. I’ll be very happy when we go up and... we’re safe," Shatner told CNN.
He boldly went into space alongside Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata Solutions, and Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs.
Their 11-minute journey in the New Shephard suborbital spacecraft took them past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space, and back again.
This isn’t the first record broken by Blue Origin’s historic spaceflights. Their first ever human flight to space on 20 July 2021 broke four records:
- Oldest person in space - Wally Funk (USA, b. February 1, 1939) was 82 years 169 days old on the day of the flight.
- First siblings in space at the same time - Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark (both USA) are the first siblings to go to space together.
- Youngest person to go to space - Oliver Daemen (Netherlands) was just 18 years 334 days at the time of the flight.
- First suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers - With Oliver on board, New Shepard became the first suborbital spacecraft to carry paying customers.
In addition to his newly obtained record, Shatner has another, rather unusual record to his name.
The star sold a kidney stone in 2006 that he had passed the previous year for $25,000 (then £12,700), making it the most expensive kidney stone. Shatner donated the proceeds to the charity Habitat for Humanity.