VAN HORN, Texas – William Shatner and three other passengers will take off on Blue Origin’s second manned flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket today, and you can catch all of the action live online.
The New Shepard missile-capsule combination will take off at 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT; 1400 GMT) from Blue Origin Launch Site One, near the town of Van Horn, West Texas. A live webcast of the mission begins approximately 90 minutes before it launches, and you can watch it live in the window above, courtesy of Blue Origin. The webcast will also be broadcast live on the Bue Origin website and on YouTube.
Today’s mission comes 12 weeks after Blue Origin’s very first manned launch, launching company founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Dutch student Oliver Daemen. If everything goes according to plan, Shatner will set a new record as the oldest person to fly into space at the age of 90 – a record previously set by Funk when Blue Origin launched on July 20.
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Joining Shatner (aka Captain Kirk from “Star Trek”) on the NS-18 mission – the 18th launch of a New Shepard vehicle – will be Audrey Powers, Vice President of Mission and Operations at Blue Origin; Glen de Vries, Vice President for Life Sciences and Healthcare at the French software company Dassault Systèmes; and Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of the Earth observation company Planet.
The entire flight will take about 11 minutes, and the crew will experience about four minutes of weightlessness in space. The New Shepard rocket booster will separate from the capsule and return to Earth to land upright at Blue Origin’s landing pad in West Texas, about two miles north of the launch pad, about eight minutes after takeoff.
While the booster lands, the New Shepard capsule with the crew on board reaches its maximum altitude just above the Kármán line, the internationally recognized limit of space, which is about 100 km above sea level. The capsule will land back on earth 11 minutes after takeoff.
Blue Origin’s webcast will run throughout the mission and show live views of the missile and capsule during takeoff and both landings. Blue Origin recovery teams plan to open the hatch to the New Shepard capsule 11 minutes after the crew landed, with the webcast ending shortly after at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT).