'It was like death': World's oldest astronaut Star Trek-fame William Shatner

by IANS |

San Francisco  (IANS) Star Trek fame William Shatner, who, at 90, has become the world's oldest astronaut so far, has landed safely on Earth from space.

Shatner has broken the record of aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who, at 83, became the oldest person to have ever flown to space.

The booster and capsule of the fully automated and reusable New Shepard rocket landed separately, with the capsule landing in the west Texas desert with the help of parachutes within minutes of their launch to space.

"Capsule touchdown! Welcome home to the crew of #NS18!" the company tweeted.

The flight took to space a little after 9 a.m. CDT (7.30 p.m. India time) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in Texas.

The NS-18 carried four astronauts to space and back: Shatner, along with former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries, co-founder of software company Medidata, and Audrey Powers, Vice President of missions and flight operations.

"Most profound experience of my life. It was surreal. Have no words to describe the feeling," Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk in the iconic science fiction TV series and films, told Amazon founder and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos after the flight.

"I wish to never get over it.

"While earth is life, I felt what death would like to be - gone in an instant," said an emotional Shatner.

The mission lasted nearly 10 minutes. The fully automated and reusable New Shepard rocket flew beyond the Karman line, 100 km above the ground and the internationally recognised boundary of space where passengers experienced 3-4 minutes of microgravity.

The five-storey tall New Shepard rocket, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, is designed to launch a crew capsule with seats for six roughly 340,000 feet into the sky toward the edge of space.

The booster is topped by a gumdrop-shaped Crew Capsule with space for six passengers inside and large windows.

After reaching the Karman line, the capsule detached from the booster, allowing those inside to view the curvature of the earth and experience weightlessness.

"Congratulations to the entire Blue Origin team on today's mission and stay tuned for more from Launch Site One! #NS18" the company tweeted.

On July 20, Blue Origin successfully carried its first human flight which included Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Blue Origin's first customer, Oliver Daemen.

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