Captain Kirk is finally on his way to the stars–or, at least, on his way to being a little bit closer to them. William Shatner was one of the passengers aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard as it launched into space at 9:45 AM CDT from Launch Site One in West Texas. Blue Origin made the live video feed available on their website.
The webcast includes edited video, such as a short piece including an interview with William Shatner and shots from the actor touring the facility with Jeff Bezos and meeting the other travelers destined to go up with him in the 18th mission of New Shepard, dubbed NS-18. You can watch the live video feed below.
While there are edited pieces, most of the feed before the launch includes long moments of waiting with shots of New Shepard and the ambient sounds of machinery. However, there are wonderful moments you miss without watching the live feed. For example, while he doesn’t join the crew for a second trip into space, billionaire Jeff Bezos is the one who closes the hatch on the NS-18 crew and he’s there to welcome them when they return to Earth. Bezos opens the hatch of their vehicle and says, “Hello astronauts! Looking good!”
There’s also a wonderful moment before the launch when messages from many of the passengers from NS-16 — the mission that carried Bezos and others into orbit — are read to William Shatner and his fellow astronauts. The messages of encouragement were from Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk, and Jeff Bezos’ brother Mark Bezos.
Of all the messages read to the NS-18 passengers, the highlight was definitely the one written by Mark Bezos. His message begins, “You lucky bastards,” and ends with with the lyrics of Mr. Spaceman. Mark Bezos, however, incorrectly attributes the lyrics to NS-18 astronaut William Shatner. While Shatner covered the song in his unique spoken word stylings, the song was written by The Byrds and was released on the album Fifth Dimension, which came out in 1966, the same year the larger world was introduced to Shatner as Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series.
NS-18 — which carried William Shatner, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries into space — seemed to go off without a hitch. The New Shepard returned to Earth safely, as did the vehicle carrying the astronauts. As they float back down to Earth, you can hear the crew talking about the experience, including hearing Shatner exclaim, “That was unlike anything they described.”
Back on Earth, William Shatner — at 90-years-old now, the oldest person to ever go into space — was the second of the astronauts to leave the vehicle and embrace Jeff Bezos. Shatner was visibly moved, including weeping and embracing Bezos a number of times. Among other things, Shatner describes what appears to have been the most powerful moment of journey for him. He describes the blue sky of Earth being “ripped away” in an instant to be met with the black void of space. “Everyone,” Shatner says, “needs to do this.”
When reports first emerged that William Shatner was heading to space, there were stories that the actor was shopping around a documentary project about the launch. We’ll have to wait and see if those reports were true and, if so, what comes of it.