William Shatner finally flies into space in a Blue Origin rocket

Mr. Bezos, who said he was inspired by Star Trek as a boy, listened, still as a statue. He may have given Mr. Shatner some room, but it was a sharp contrast to his appearance after his own brief spaceflight in July when he was aboard the same spaceship. Then Mr. Bezos stopped off a stage and drew criticism from the critics of the giant corporation he founded when he thanked Amazon employees and customers for letting him fund his private space company.

Mr Shatner shared the capsule with three other passengers Wednesday: Audrey Powers, a vice president of Blue Origin who oversees the operations of New Shepard, and two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Earth observation company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, co-founder of one Company that develops software for clinical researchers.

The Wednesday morning launch was postponed by about an hour for two pauses until the launch countdown – in part caused by additional controls on the spacecraft and winches near its launch pad. The quartet was driven in electric pickups to the Blue Origin launch pad about an hour before take-off, flanked by Mr. Bezos and company staff.

For a moment it looked like Mr. Bezos was going to take them into space in a flight suit like the one he wore in July. But he closed the hatch before exiting the pad and sent the crew on their journey.

The missile lifted off at 9:49 a.m. Central Time, soaring almost as fast as a racing bullet at 2,235 mph, and sending the crew up about 10 km. The entire journey lasted 10 minutes, 17 seconds and gave the four passengers about four minutes of weightlessness.

Mr Boshuizen, who spoke to reporters after the flight, compared the crew’s entry into space to a stone hitting the surface of a lake. “I tried to smile, but my jaw was pushed back in my head,” he said.

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