‘The most profound experience’ – Star Trek actor Shatner becomes oldest person in space

Star Trek actor William Shatner has become the oldest person to reach space, calling his trip “the most profound experience”.

The 90-year-old blasted off from Texas just after 3.50pm UK time on a Blue Origin rocket – the space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, spent several minutes in a suborbital flight alongside three others.

Live – Shatner blasts to edge of space on Amazon founder’s rocket

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Shatner hugs Bezos as he emerges from space capsule

After touching down, an emotional Shatner placed his hands on Bezos’s shoulders and told him “what you have given me is the most profound experience… I’m so filled with emotion”.

Before the launch, he admitted he was a “little frightened”.

The 18-metre New Shepard rocket sent the quartet just above the internationally-recognised boundary of space known as the Karman Line, reaching about 66 miles (106km) above Earth.

Image: The capsule landed in the desert at about 4.01pm UK time

The reusable rocket detached from the capsule carrying the astronauts and fired its engines to land itself upright back on the launch pad.

Shatner experienced weightlessness on his trip before three parachutes delivered the capsule gently back to Earth, touching down in the desert at about 15mph.

Bezos opened the capsule’s hatch as Shatner and the others stepped out to cheers and hugs from their families.

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Shatner and crew ring bell as they board capsule before launch

Image: From left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Pic: AP

The others on the flight were NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers

Blue Origin’s rocket system is called New Shepard, named after the Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard who was the first American to go into space.

Image: Blue Origin made its maiden space tourism flight with Bezos and others on board on 20 July

The company aims to attract regular paying customers in future and had its maiden space tourism flight on 20 July, when Bezos and three others flew to the edge of space.

Other billionaires are also competing in the space race, notably Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.