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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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When Star Trek first aired in 1966, Americans had not yet walked on the moon, and the idea that humans could live and work in space was still a long way off.

• Read also: Star Trek’s famous Captain Kirk will go to space, William Shatner

On Wednesday, William Shatner, who played the iconic Captain Kirk on the iconic series, will be the first actor in the cast to take a true journey to the “frontier of infinity.”

He will, along with three other West Texas passengers, aboard a Blue Origin rocket on a suborbital flight that will be the second manned flight for billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company.

An event that will delight fans of this popular culture phenomenon, which has inspired generations of astronauts.

The takeoff, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, was postponed by one day due to the weather.

“I plan to keep my nose glued to the window. All 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, he will become the oldest person to reach space.

Blue Origin’s decision to invite one of sci-fi’s most famous space travelers isn’t innocent: it should help preserve public interest in the race among the many private companies in the sector.

In July, British billionaire Richard Branson flew aboard the Virgin Galactic, just days before Jeff Bezos, on the first manned flight of a New Shepard missile – the same thing that will start William Shatner.

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For its part, SpaceX sent four space tourists for three days into Earth orbit in September, a mission that was the subject of the Netflix series.

“Taking a celebrity like William Shatner associated with space brings a kind of revival and creates media interest,” Joe Chapowski, a public relations expert at the University of North Carolina told AFP.

Pioneer Series

The original Star Trek series was discontinued after three seasons, but sequels and over a dozen films later fueled the phenomenon.

Captain Kirk was at the helm of a five-year mission “to explore strange new worlds, discover new life, and other civilizations”.

His real journey into space would take much shorter: about ten minutes in total, of which four minutes would be in zero gravity. The spacecraft travels directly above the Karman Line, which marks the boundary of space at an altitude of 100 km according to the international agreement.

The Star Trek series has turned America’s attention to space conquest, then in its infancy, while also addressing societal issues.

The cast was very diverse, when America 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.

space conquest

The series is also closely associated with the US space program.

NASA’s first space shuttle was named “Enterprise,” after the spacecraft piloted by Captain Kirk. In the 1970s, Nichelle Nichols made a video to help NASA recruit astronauts, especially women and minorities. Other actors have participated in USAID conferences or provided their voices for documentaries.

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“For 50 years, Star Trek has inspired generations of scientists, engineers, and even astronauts,” US astronaut Victor Glover declared in 2016, in a documentary about the parallels between the research conducted in the series and that conducted today aboard the station. International Space.

Another famous Star Trek fan? Jeff Bezos himself. For example, he explained how Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, was inspired by the Star Trek computer.

The billionaire even appeared, beyond recognition under space make-up, in one of the films: “Star Trek Without Limit” (2016).

William Shatner’s fame and jokes — he estimated in a CNN interview that the New Shepard rocket, often derided for its phallic side, “inoculates the space program” — is also a welcome diversion for Blue Origin.

Some employees – past and present – accuse the company of maintaining a “toxic” work environment, where gender discrimination is ubiquitous. In a text posted online at the end of September, these employees denounced the lack of staff and resources and the intense pressure to reduce costs and delays, affecting flight safety.

Blue Origin denied these allegations.

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