Blue Origin has confirmed the final crew-members for the upcoming NS-18 launch, with Star Trek actor William Shatner set to occupy one of the last two seats in the spacecraft. Shatner will join Blue Origin’s own Audrey Powers on NS-18, which is expected to launch later this month.
The company, founded by Jeff Bezos, announced the first crew for NS-18 at the end of September. That includes Dr. Chris Boshuizen – a former NASA engineer who went on to found nanosatellite company Planet Labs – and Glen de Vries – Vice-Chair of Life Sciences & Healthcare at Dassault Systèmes – with all four scheduled to launch on October 12.
Shatner, of course, requires little introduction, even if you’re not a science-fiction fan. Star of the original series of Star Trek, and multiple movies in the same universe, the actor gained international fame playing James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise. Beyond acting, Shatner also has a surprisingly successful music career, and has become a mainstay of celebrity Twitter.
At 90, meanwhile, Shatner is also set to be the oldest person to have flown to space. “I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” the actor said in a statement today. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”
Fourth crew member will be Audrey Powers, who joined Blue Origin in 2013. There, she leads New Shepard’s Mission and Flight Operations team, having first served as Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Legal & Compliance for Bezos’ company.
It followed a career that saw Powers on NASA’s flight controller team, with 2,000 hours of console time as a guidance and controls engineer for the International Space Station Program. Like Glen de Vries, Powers is also trained as a private pilot.
NS-18 is scheduled to launch at 8:30am CDT on October 12. The blast-off will take place at Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas, where NS-17 made history for the company in its first human flight. That took place on July 20, with Jeff Bezos among the four-person crew onboard.
Like NS-17, the upcoming NS-18 flight will see the four-strong crew tickle the edges of space during the course of 10-12 minutes. New Shepard will travel just above the Kármán Line, the 62 mile point above sea level accepted as one definition of where “space” officially begins. It’ll give those onboard a taste of zero-gravity, before the capsule dips back down and is carried to a landing by a cluster of parachutes. Blue Origin will be livestreaming the launch later this month.