VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.
The “Star Trek” hero became the oldest person to ride a rocket, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years.
Dressed in a royal blue flight suit, Shatner joined three fellow passengers, four to five decades younger, aboard the fully automated capsule that took off from remote West Texas for an up-and-down flight scheduled to last just 10 minutes or so.
The spaceship aimed for an altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers), at the fringes of space, after which the capsule was set to parachute back to the desert floor.
Sci-fi fans reveled in the opportunity to see the man best known as the stalwart Capt. James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise boldly go where no star of American TV has gone before.
Shatner said ahead of the countdown that he planned to spend his approximately three minutes of weightlessness gazing down at Earth, his nose pressed against the capsule’s windows.
“The only thing I don’t want to see is a little gremlin looking back at me,” he joked, referring to the plot of his 1963 “Twilight Zone” episode titled “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
Bezos is a huge “Star Trek” fan — the Amazon founder had a cameo as an alien in one of the later “Star Trek” movies — and Shatner rode free as his invited guest.
The blastoff brought priceless star power to Bezos’ spaceship company, given its built-in appeal to baby boomers, celebrity watchers and space enthusiasts. Shatner starred in TV’s original “Star Trek”…