At 90, William Shatner becomes oldest person to reach ‘the final frontier’
By Daniel E. Slotnik
When William Shatner, 90, traveled to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard on Wednesday he became the oldest person ever to reach such heights.
Shatner, whose name has been synonymous with space exploration since he played Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series more than half a century ago, became the first nonagenarian to cross the Kármán line, the widely recognized boundary between the atmosphere and space about 63 miles above the Earth.
Asked whether he was in training for the roughly 10-minute mission, Shatner joked before the flight that the regimen had been intense.
“All the time,” he told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “I’m running miles, miles.”
Shatner’s voyage came hot on the heels of one by Wally Funk, who at 82 was the oldest person to travel to space when she took part in a Blue Origin flight in July with Jeff Bezos, the company’s owner.
Funk excelled at tests for astronauts in the space program in the 1960s, before Shatner played Captain Kirk, but NASA did not allow women to become astronauts at the time.
John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, also became the oldest person to reach space when he flew aboard a space shuttle mission more than 35 years later at the age of 77. Unlike Shatner or Funk, Glenn’s trip went to orbit, which requires a much more powerful rocket than the one powering Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.
The youngest person ever to travel to space also flew on Blue Origin’s July flight. He was Oliver Daemen, 18, of the Netherlands.
Shatner told Cooper that “I’m a little bit nervous about the flight.”
But curiosity was a more powerful motivator, and Shatner said he was excited by the question “What will I see when I’m out there?”