William Shatner Boldly Goes Where No 90-Year-Old Has Gone Before: SPACE


Jesus Regalado Santos, Staff Writer

William Shatner made history yesterday (Oct.13) as the oldest man to go into space–even if it was only for a few minutes.

At 90 years old, Shatner joined Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin expedition that both took off from and landed near Van Horn, Texas. “I heard about Jeff Bezos and William Shatner going to space,” Matthew Shaefer, a sophomore states. “I suppose if they can do it, anyone can–if they have enough money.” Although no price tag was mentioned publically, most speculate that the cost was in the millions for passengers.

But, for Shatner, the experience was priceless. Having starred as James T. Kirk, captain of the starship Enterprise in the original Star Trek television series–which aired from 1966-1969–Shatner’s character became synonymous with space travel. Now, Shatner in real life can truly add that to his claim to fame aboard the rocketship New Shepard.

Shatner, however, is not the first civilian to travel into space. Companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin have all been experimenting with self-flying rockets that take others on “joy rides.” Recently SpaceX has launched a rocket called the Dragon that virtually flew itself. This could mean that, in the near future, there could be a larger number of people who could have the opportunity to go to space. Some theorize that within 10 years, people will be living and manufacturing items from an International Space Station.

Even then, however, going to space also requires a lot of training for someone on board. Doug Hurley, a former astronaut, on time.com says, “There are no plans to do any manual flying unless there’s a need for it from a systems failure kind of scenario.” This means that they still have to be trained professionals accompanying anyone who can afford a ticket to space–at least for now. Shaefer also adds, “I feel like the autopilot could be a potentially dangerous prospect.” After thinking for a bit longer, he adds, “Even though they would most likely always have someone who could pilot the ship in case the autopilot fails, I still feel like there could be several issues involving it.”

Earlier this year Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group, was the first billionaire to go into space. On July 11, Branson was able to fly on one of Virgin Galactic’s rockets to the edge of outer space, where he and his crew were able to experience around four minutes of weightlessness. Bezos wasn’t far behind, becoming the second billionaire to fly to space  on July 20. Bezos also went to the edge of space and was only able to experience weightlessness for around three minutes.

 Fun fact: Neither of these rockets had a pilot, which proves that everything in this universe is becoming hands-free–even spaceships!