It's official! William Shatner -- the man who brought Captain Kirk to life -- is going to be following in his character's footsteps.
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The ashes of both Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and James Doohan — who played Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in the original Star Trek series, films, and even an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — have both been sent into space at different times over the years. But it seems like William Shatner is determined to one-up them both by making a trip that isn’t posthumous.
On Monday, Blue Origin — the same company behind billionaire Jeff Bezos’ suborbital flight in July on board New Shepard — announced that William Shatner would be joining Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries on New Shepard’s 18th mission. Liftoff is currently scheduled from Launch Site One in West Texas next Tuesday, October 12.
Unconfirmed reports about William Shatner campaigning to join the crew surfaced last week from TMZ. The site also reported that the Captain Kirk actor planned to document the experience and was shopping the idea around to different networks. Discovery reportedly passed on the project, though now that Shatner’s seat aboard New Shepard is confirmed, other networks may sit up and take notice.
When New Shepard took flight in July, test pilot Wally Funk was one of the four people on board and — at 82 years old — the trip made her the oldest person ever to travel in space. With William Shatner’s seat being saved for him in October, that record will unfortunately enjoy a relatively short life. Shatner turned 90 in March, meaning he’ll soon knock Funk out of the top spot, which was previously held by John Glenn.
William Shatner took to Twitter to announce his upcoming journey, while at the same time referencing his infamous 1978 cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
The timing of the announcement has some interesting coincidence attached to it. Just this past weekend Owen Wilson and his brother Luke appeared in a brilliant Saturday Night Live skit making fun of the billionaire space race. The bit — titled Star Trek: Ego Quest — takes inspiration from the same franchise that made William Shatner famous. Made to look like a Paramount+ ad, the skit stars Owen Wilson as Bezos and other actors as rival space-minded billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk.
There’s other news coming out of Blue Origin that the company may hope gets drowned out by the William Shatner announcement. As The Verge points out, it was just at the end of last week that Blue Origin employees released a public essay alleging that the company was “rife with sexism.” Examples offered in the essay include an unnamed executive regularly calling female employees by names like “baby doll” and “baby girl” as well as asking inappropriate questions about their dating lives. In spite of a long list of complaints, it allegedly took the executive groping an employee to get him fired.
The essays also mentions something the 90-year-old William Shatner might want to pay attention to. According to the allegations, safety is not priority number one at Blue Origin, and the essay says employees have been forced out for bringing up safety concerns.
New Shepard’s 18th mission — with William Shatner aboard — is scheduled for liftoff next Tuesday, October 12, at 8:30 AM CDT. Live coverage begins at Blue Origin‘s website 90 minutes before liftoff.