News, Culture & Society

Blue Origin shares a photo of 4 astronauts launching into space tomorrow, including William Shatner

Blue Origin has shared a new photo of the four ‘astronauts’ that will launch to the edge of space tomorrow, including Star Trek legend William Shatner, aged 90.

Shatner retweeted the picture, in which the four members of the crew look like they are preparing for an away mission, joking ‘aren’t we adorbs’. 

The crew were originally set to launch today, but high winds around the Blue Origin facility in West Texas led to the launch being pushed back to tomorrow.

The four person crew on the suborbital flight includes Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, who are all waiting at the astronaut village.

The flight will take off from Launch Site One in West Texas on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket at 08:30 ET (13:30 BST) Wednesday, flying up to 65 miles where the crew will experience three minutes of weightlessness before descending to Earth.

Of the delay to the launch, Shatner said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ as he has another day to wait, but added that it is ‘really worth it.’ 

From left to right: Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries will travel to the edge of space tomorrow with Blue Origin

The four person crew on the suborbital flight includes Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, who are all waiting at the astronaut village

The four person crew on the suborbital flight includes Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries and Audrey Powers, who are all waiting at the astronaut village 

MEET THE CREW 

William Shatner

The 90-year-old Canadian actor shot to fame in the 1960s when he took on the role of James T Kirk in Star Trek the original series. 

He will become the oldest person ever to travel to space when he launches. 

Chris Boshuizen 

Boshuizen is the co-founder of Planet Labs and partner at venture capital firm DCVC, and is a paying passenger.

He has a net worth of $30 million, and was Space Mission Architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center until 2012.

Glen de Vries

de Vries, who co-founded Medidata Solutions in 1999, said the spot on the New Shepard is a ‘dream come true.’

‘This is how innovation happens,’ he said in an interview ahead of launch.

Audrey Powers 

Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, she spent years watching missions soar into space. 

She joined Blue Origin in 2013 and oversees New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing and ground support infrastructure.

When Shatner passes the 50 mile altitude mark, he will become the oldest person to go to space, taking the record from Wally Funk, 82, who launched on the first Blue Origin crewed mission earlier this year on a flight with Jeff Bezos.

Shatner shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966.

This was four years after Alan Shephard – who the rocket he’ll travel in is named after – became the first American in space, and three years before Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon.

‘I plan to be looking out the window with my nose pressed against the window. The only thing I don’t want to see is a little gremlin looking back at me,’ Shatner said referring to his role on Twilight Zone’s ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet.’

Along for the ride is Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, who spent years watching missions soar into space.

‘It was a very generous offer for me to represent all of my colleagues at Blue that have been working on this program for a very long time,’ Powers said in an interview with Good Morning America on Monday.

‘They offered me the opportunity to represent all of those great people and sit in the seat. I could not be more overwhelmed by the opportunity.’

She joined Blue Origin in 2013 and oversees New Shepard flight operations, vehicle maintenance, and launch, landing and ground support infrastructure.

The other two passengers are ‘paying customers,’ and while the actual cost of their tickets hasn’t been revealed, it is thought to be at least $200,000 (£147,000).

William Shatner (pictured second from left) shared the crew photo on Twitter, joking in the caption: 'Aren't we all adorbs!'

William Shatner (pictured second from left) shared the crew photo on Twitter, joking in the caption: ‘Aren’t we all adorbs!’

Shatner and the crew spoke to Good Morning America (GMA) on Monday about the delay and excitement to be a part of history

Shatner and the crew spoke to Good Morning America (GMA) on Monday about the delay and excitement to be a part of history

The New Shephard will travel beyond the 100km (62 mile) Karman line, defined internationally as the 'edge of space', where the crew will experience weightless for a few minutes before parachuting in the capsule back to the Texas desert

The New Shephard will travel beyond the 100km (62 mile) Karman line, defined internationally as the ‘edge of space’, where the crew will experience weightless for a few minutes before parachuting in the capsule back to the Texas desert

The New Shepard is made up of a rocket and nose cone, where there is room for up to six passengers to travel up to 65 miles above the Earth

The New Shepard is made up of a rocket and nose cone, where there is room for up to six passengers to travel up to 65 miles above the Earth

de Vries (left), Shatner (middle) and Powers (right) are pictured as they conduct training ahead of the mission

de Vries (left), Shatner (middle) and Powers (right) are pictured as they conduct training ahead of the mission

The paying passengers are Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and partner at venture capital firm DCVC and de Vries, co-founder of Medidata.

Boshuizen, who has an estimated net worth approaching $30 million, was also the Space Mission Architect at NASA’s Ames Research Center between 2008 and 2012.  

During this time he invented the Phonesat, which is a satellite built from a smartphone.

‘I’ve worked in space industry my entire life and I am excited the door is finally opening,’ Boshuizen said during the interview with GMA.

The flight will take off from Launch Site One in West Texas on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket at 08:30 ET (13:30 BST) Wednesday, flying up to 65 miles where the crew will experience three minutes of weightlessness before descending to Earth

The flight will take off from Launch Site One in West Texas on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket at 08:30 ET (13:30 BST) Wednesday, flying up to 65 miles where the crew will experience three minutes of weightlessness before descending to Earth 

This will be the second crewed flight for Blue Origin. The last (pictured) took Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk to the edge of space on July 20

This will be the second crewed flight for Blue Origin. The last (pictured) took Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk to the edge of space on July 20

The Canadian actor shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966. Pictured here in the 1988 movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

The Canadian actor shot to fame when he took on the role of James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series in 1966. Pictured here in the 1988 movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

The mission follows Blue Origin’s first crewed flight on July 20, which saw the firm’s founder Jeff Bezos (2nd from right), his brother Mark (2nd from left), Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen (left) and test pilot, Wally Funk (right), head into space

The mission follows Blue Origin’s first crewed flight on July 20, which saw the firm’s founder Jeff Bezos (2nd from right), his brother Mark (2nd from left), Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen (left) and test pilot, Wally Funk (right), head into space

HOW JEFF BEZOS IS SPENDING BILLIONS OF HIS OWN MONEY TO BUILD BLUE ORIGIN AND WIN THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE

Amazon founder and outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos entered the space sector in 2000, two years before SpaceX was formed by Elon Musk.

Based in Kent, Washington, it originally focused on sub-orbital spaceflight services, building cheaper, more reliable and reusable launch vehicles.

They are gradually moving from suborbital to orbital flight in an incremental way and will launch humans to space on July 20. 

Bezos will be on that first crewed flight along with his brother Mark, the winner of the auction, and three members of Blue Origin staff. 

The firm currently has two launch vehicles, the suborbital New Shepherd, named for the first American in space, Alan Shepherd, and New Glenn, named for John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. 

Bezos has announced they are also working on New Armstrong, after the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, although no details have been revealed. 

‘I think we will look back at this day 50 years from now and go this was the year the human race started going to space.’

de Vries said the spot on the New Shepard is a ‘dream come true.’

‘This is how innovation happens,’ he told Holmes. 

‘I lived in it healthcare and life sciences when you think about an industry being created and the opportunity for us to fuel that industry, as Chris was saying this is the beginning of a new time for space.

‘We are on the beginning of a curve that is just going to blast off.’

The mission follows Blue Origin’s first crewed flight on July 20, which saw the firm’s founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen and test pilot, Wally Funk, head into space.

At the time, Funk was the oldest person to ever fly to space at 82 years old, but when Shatner goes up, he will beat that by eight years.

At 18 years old, Daemen became the youngest person, first teenager, and first person born in the 21st century to travel to space.

Oliver’s father, Joes Daemen, who founded private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners, bought the seat aboard the flight for over $20 million at auction.

The New Shephard will travel beyond the 100km (62 mile) Karman line, defined internationally as the ‘edge of space’.

Once there, the crew will remain weightless for a few minutes before parachuting in the capsule back to the Texas desert.

It is a reusable rocket, with the main engine returning to land at Launch Site One after getting the capsule to space.

Blue Origin may be on top of the world this week, but the company was recently dragged through the mud by more than two dozen employees.

William Shatner (pictured) is one of four individuals set to fly aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Wednesday – the mission was originally set for Tuesday, but poor weather caused a delay

William Shatner (pictured) is one of four individuals set to fly aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Wednesday – the mission was originally set for Tuesday, but poor weather caused a delay

Shatner (left) is famed for playing Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series, and is pictured in the 1960s with his co-star Leonard Nimoy

Shatner (left) is famed for playing Captain James T Kirk in the original Star Trek series, and is pictured in the 1960s with his co-star Leonard Nimoy 

They accused Bezos of creating a ‘toxic’ work environment where the company sacrificed safety to work at ‘breakneck speed’ in order to win the space race.

In an essay published last month, Alexandra Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, along with 20 employees said the priority was to ‘make progress for Jeff’ as he competed with Elon Musk and Richard Branson. 

They claimed the most common question was: ‘When will Elon or Branson fly?’ and safety concerns were ignored as they would have ‘slowed progress’. 

Along for the ride is Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations, who has spent years watching missions soar into space and now has the opportunity to take the journey herself

Along for the ride is Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, who has spent years watching missions soar into space and now has the opportunity to take the journey herself

Chris Boshuizen said:‘I’ve worked in space industry my entire life and I am excited the door is finally opening'

Glen de Vries said: 'I lived in it healthcare and life sciences when you think about an industry being created and the opportunity for us to fuel that industry, as Chris was saying this is the beginning of a new time for space'

According to GMA, there are only two paying customers on this journey: Chris Boshuizen (left) co-founder of Planet Labs and partner at venture capital firm DCVC and Glen de Vries (right), co-founder of Medidata

More accusations surfaced Monday from a 2019 memo written by a mid-level employee, The Washington Post reported.

‘Our current culture is toxic to our success and many can see it spreading throughout the company.’

The problems at the spaceflight company were ‘systemic,’ according to the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post and verified by two former employees familiar with the matter, and ‘the loss of trust in Blue’s leadership is common.’ 

THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.

Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20, but Branson beat him to the punch.

The British billionaire became Virgin Galactic Astronaut 001 when he made it to space on a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos – on July 11 in a test flight.

Bezos travelled to space on July 20 with his younger brother Mark, Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student whose dad purchased his ticket, and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit – but has purchased a ticket with Virgin Galactic for a suborbital flight.

SpaceX became the first of the ‘space tourism’ operators to send a fully civilian crew into orbit, with the Inspiration4 mission funded by billionaire Jared Isaacman. 

His flight was on a Dragon capsule and SpaceX rocket built by space-obsessed billionaire, Elon Musk and took off for the three day orbital trip on September 16 – going higher than the International Space Station. 

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX has also taken two groups of astronauts to the |International Space Station, with crew from NASA, ESA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency. 

SpaceX has been sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network, which is already in beta and providing fast internet to rural areas. 

Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. The final tickets are expected to cost $350,000.

Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.    

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff. 

Blue Origin are working on New Glenn, the next generation heavy lift rocket, that will compete with the SpaceX Falcon 9. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk