The start was successful: the reusable launch vehicle “New Shepard” brings four tourists into space
Photo: Blue Origin / youtube
For the second time, the space company Blue Origin has sent space tourists into space.
This time on board the space capsule was the actor William Shatner, who achieved fame in his role as "Captain Kirk" in the television series "Star Trek".
Shatner is now 90 years old, making him the oldest person to have ever been in space.
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The senior actor is part of the four-man civilian crew that started in Texas this Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Origin launch site is approximately 32 kilometers outside the town of Van Horn.
In addition to Shatner, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, entrepreneur Glen de Vries, who invests in clinical research, and Audrey Powers, vice president and engineer of Blue Origin, take part in the space excursion.
According to a report in the New York Times, Shatner, unlike Boshuizen and De Vries, did not pay for his ticket.
He was invited as a "guest" by Blue Origin, the newspaper reported, citing the company.
The vice-boss of the group did not have to buy a ticket either.
In 1966 the Canadian Shatner first took on the role of "Captain James T. Kirk" in the science fiction series "Star Trek" (in German: "Spaceship Enterprise").
In the opening credits of every episode of the series, he promised "to explore new worlds, new life and new civilizations."
His spaceship, the Enterprise, will advance into galaxies "that no human has ever seen".
Three to four minutes of weightlessness
The short space tour in the 18.3 meter high, fully autonomous spaceship "New Shepard" was designed to last around eleven minutes.
During this time, the three astronauts and one female astronaut experience weightlessness for three to four minutes, according to Blue Origin.
The space capsule moves above the so-called Kármán line, 100 kilometers above the surface of the earth.
This line is an imaginary, internationally recognized boundary that marks the beginning of space.
The space capsule and its occupants will return to the Texas desert with parachutes.
The flight, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, had been postponed by a day due to weather conditions.
The four crew members had completed another training session on Tuesday.
On July 20 of this year, the company Blue Origin, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos founded two decades ago, carried out its first successful space tourism flight: for a period of ten minutes and ten seconds. Bezos, his brother Mark, as well as an 82-year-old former US pilot and an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, whose father gave him the flight, flew with them.
Observers of the space tourism industry rate the fact that William Shatner, an icon of space travel pop culture, is flying into space as a high-profile advertising campaign.
After all, Blue Origin is competing with two other companies for customers who are willing to pay: Billionaires Elon Musk and Richard Branson have already organized touristic space flights with their respective space companies - SpaceX and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.
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Bezos' group may also really need some publicity: Recently, former and current Blue Origin employees had raised security concerns in an open letter and accused the company of placing speed and cost savings over quality control and adequate staffing.
In addition, the employees criticized a toxic and sexist working atmosphere.
The US Federal Aviation Administration announced two weeks ago that it would investigate the concerns.
vki / dpa / Reuters