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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Launches William Shatner Into Space And Back

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The NS-18 crew returns to the New Shepard capsule.

Blue origin

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin launched its New Shepard rocket for the fifth time this year on Wednesday, with Canadian actor William Shatner joining the company’s second manned space flight to date.

The mission, dubbed NS-18, was carried out by a crew of four: Shatner, Blue Origin’s vice president of missions and operations, Audrey Powers, Planet Labs co-founder Chris Bochuisen, and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries.

The start occurred at approximately 10:50 am ET.

Crew of NS-18 (from left to right): Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Dr. Chris Boschuisen and Glen de Vries.

Blue origin

Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series, is now the oldest person to fly into space at 90 years old. The record was previously set by aerospace pioneer Wally Funk, who flew Blue Origin for the first time at 82. launch with a crew in July.

The rocket was launched from Blue Origin’s private facility in West Texas, reaching an altitude of over 100,000 kilometers (or over 340,000 feet), and returned safely to Earth a few minutes later. From start to finish, the launch lasted about 11 minutes. The crew was in zero gravity for about three minutes.

Star Trek actor William Shatner teamed with former NASA engineer Chris Boschuisen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and vice president and engineer Audrey Powers before their suborbital flight on Blue Origin New Shepard NS-18 mission near Van Horn, Texas. United States, captured on video from October 13, 2021.

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Blue Origin | Reuters

The New Shepard capsule accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound and crossed the 80-kilometer border (about 50 miles) that the United States uses to mark the border of space. The capsule flies autonomously, without a human pilot, and returns by parachute to land in the Texas desert.

The New Shepard Rocket Booster is also reusable and has landed on a concrete pad near the launch site. NS-18 was the fourth launch and landing of this launch vehicle.

The company also carries out New Shepard cargo missions, such as the August one, when research loads are transported in the capsule.

Blue Origin founder Bezos flew the company’s first manned space flight in July with a mission that marked his company’s entry into the suborbital tourism sector, where it competes with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Also on the private space tourism market is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The company’s Crew Dragon capsule enters an orbit that is many times the altitude of the Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic spacecraft, and spends days, not minutes, in space.

While Bezos said Blue Origin sold nearly $ 100 million worth of tickets to prospective passengers, the company did not disclose the price of a seat at New Shepard.

The company’s most recent manned space flight took place as the Federal Aviation Administration addressed the safety concerns raised by current and former employees in an essay published last month. Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith, in an email received by CNBC, responded to the security allegations, stating that the company’s New Shepard program “went through a methodical and painful certification process” the case is not informed and is simply wrong. “

Earlier this month, CNBC reported that Blue Origin was suffering from growing layoffs. Senior Vice President of the New Shepard Program left in August.

Powers, whose role is to oversee the security of the New Shepard program, was especially invited by Bezos and Blue Origin’s senior management as the fourth and final member of the NS-18 crew to represent the company.

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