Captain Kirk, from Star Trek, will travel to space with Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company
When “Star Trek” first aired in 1966, Americans had not yet set foot on the moon, and the idea that humans could one day live and work in space was still a long way off.
On Tuesday, William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on the iconic series, will be the first actor in the cast to take a trip to the “last frontiers” of real life.
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He and three other passengers will board a Blue Origin rocket from West Texas on what will be billionaire Jeff Bezos’ second manned flight, in an event that will impress fans of the pop culture phenomenon that has inspired generations of astronauts.
“I plan to keep my nose in the window. The only thing I don’t want to see is Gremlin looking at me from the other side,” the Canadian actor joked in a video posted by Blue Origin. At the age of 90, Shatner will become the oldest person to ever reach space.
Blue Origin’s decision to invite one of science fiction’s most famous space travelers isn’t innocent: it should help maintain public interest in the race among the sector’s many private companies.
In July, British billionaire Richard Branson flew aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft, just days before Jeff Bezos flew the first manned flight of the New Shepard rocket, the same rocket that will carry William Shatner.
For its part, SpaceX sent four space tourists into Earth orbit for three days in September, a mission that was the subject of the Netflix series.
“Bringing in a celebrity like space-related William Shatner brings a kind of exposure and gets media attention,” Joe Chapowski, a public relations expert at the University of North Carolina told AFP.
The original Star Trek series closed after three seasons, but sequels and over a dozen films later fueled the phenomenon.
In it, Captain Kirk is ordered with a five-year mission “to explore strange new worlds, discover new life forms, and other civilizations.”
Your actual trip into space will take much less: about ten minutes in total, four of which will be in zero gravity. The spacecraft will travel directly above the Karman Line, which marks the boundary of space at an altitude of 100 kilometers, in accordance with the international agreement.
The “Star Trek” series brought America’s attention to the conquest of space, then in its infancy, while also addressing social issues.
The cast was very diverse at a time when the United States was in the midst of the civil rights movement. In 1968, when William Shatner and African-American actress Nichelle Nichols kissed, this was the first kiss between a white person and a person of color on American television.
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The series is also closely associated with the US space program.
NASA’s first space shuttle has been named “Enterprise” in honor of the ship piloted by Captain Kirk. In the 1970s, Nichelle Nichols made a video to help NASA recruit astronauts, especially women and minorities. Other actors in the series have participated in NASA conferences or provided their voices in documentaries.
“For 50 years, ‘Star Trek’ has inspired generations of scientists, engineers and even astronauts,” US astronaut Victor Glover said in a 2016 documentary about the parallels between the investigations in the series and those conducted. space station.
Another famous “Star Trek” fan? Jeff Bezos himself. He told, for example, how Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, was inspired by the computer in the series.
The billionaire even appeared, unrecognizably under alien makeup, in one of the films: “Star Trek Unlimited” (2016).
William Shatner’s celebrity stature, as well as his sense of humor — he said in an interview with CNN that the New Shepard rocket, often mocked for its phallic appearance, “throws out the space program” — is a distraction. Welcome to Blue Origin.
The company has been accused by some employees – past and present – of maintaining a “toxic” work environment and of pervasive sexism.
In a statement posted online at the end of September, employees complained of understaffing, limited resources and heavy pressure to cut costs and deadlines, affecting flight safety.
Blue Origin denied these allegations.