*Update: William Shatner's trip into space was a success and the crew of NS-18 has safely returned to Earth.*
William Shatner, the iconic actor made famous by his portrayal of Captain James Tiberius Kirk on Star Trek in the 1960s, is set to go to space for real later today, thanks to the private space company Blue Origin.
The Blue Origin flight, designated NS-18 (it will be the 18th flight of the New Shepherd rocket), will launch Shatner; Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet, an Earth-observation venture; and Glen de Vries, vice chair for life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, a French software firm.
Originally slated for October 12, the launch window was pushed back one day and after a 30 minute pre-launch delay, the mission is now scheduled for take off at 10:30AM EDT / 7:30AM PDT / 3:30PM BST on October 13.
#NewShepard is go for launch! The mission team has completed the Flight Readiness Evaluation prior to #NS18. This is our final meeting with the engineers and Mission Control team to ensure all systems are go for launch. A thread: pic.twitter.com/nCBmVyTh2XOctober 12, 2021
The launch isn't just a cultural event, but also a historic one. Shatner, at 90 years old, will be the oldest person to ever fly in space, following Wally Funk's trip into space on New Shephard's first crewed mission back in July. Funk is 82 years old, and remains the oldest woman to ever fly in space.
How to watch William Shatner launch into space with Blue Origin
Fortunately, rocket launches have become popular media events for private space companies, so there are plenty of livestreams of the launch site in Van Horn, Texas, that will capture all the action.
Blue Origin will have its official livestream up on its homepage, with the webcast scheduled to start at 8:30AM EDT / 5:30AM PDT / 1:30PM BST and will run until just after the crew capsule returns to Earth.
The webcast will also run on Blue Origin's YouTube channel and the company will be providing live mission updates on its Twitter feed if you want to follow along. We're also embedding the stream below.
Is William Shatner actually going into space?
Blue Origin's New Shephard rocket doesn't put its crew into orbit the way SpaceX does with its Falcon 9 rocket, but it does travel past the Kármán line, the imaginary boundary 62 miles above the Earth's surface that is internationally recognized as the beginning of outer space.
Shatner and the NS-18 crew are also expected to experience several minutes of weightlessness before the New Shephard crew capsule begins its return to Earth. In total, the mission should last about 11 minutes from launch to touchdown.
What time is William Shatner launching?
The New Shephard rocket is expected to lift off at 10AM EDT / 7AM PDT / 3PM BST on October 13, but this is just the beginning of the launch window.
There way always be some anomaly that delay the launch beyond 10AM, such as unexpectedly high winds, but this close to the launch time its generally a safe bet that the rocket will take off on schedule.
How long will Shatner be in space?
In total, Shatner and the NS-18 crew will only be in space proper for just a few of the expected 11 minutes of the mission. This certainly isn't as rigorous as crewing the International Space Station for weeks or months on end, but as Shatner himself has said, "We're just at the beginning, and how miraculous the beginning is, and how extraordinary it is to be part of this beginning."
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