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Why is ‘Star Trek”s William Shatner going to space at 90 years old?

On Monday, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin announced that actor William Shatner, 90, will be on the next Blue Origin space flight alongside Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission & flight operations, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries.

The iconic Star Trek actor has spent decades working on projects concerning the final frontier and now he’ll finally experience it firsthand. Although this expedition comes as the culmination of Shatner’s career, it also comes just weeks after a Blue Origin scandal. Accusations from twenty-one employees cited the workplace as both toxic & sexist.

Shatner finally journeys to space

William Shatner will be lifting off in the New Shepard NS-18 flight on October 12th. The journey will take eleven minutes and fly past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space. NS-18’s capsule will parachute back to the desert floor, not far from where it took off.

“Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a ‘rocket man!’” the 90-year-old actor tweeted. He added, “It’s never too late to experience new things.”

William Shatner will soon become the oldest person to travel to space. He’ll be joined by three other passengers, two of them paying customers, aboard the Blue Origin capsule. Additionally, he’ll also be the second actor to reach space this month. Russia will be launching an actress and a film director to the International Space Station on Tuesday for almost two weeks of filmmaking.

“I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” Shatner said in a press release. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”

William Shatner’s extensive space-centric career

William Shatner played the tough & suave Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969. Although the series was canceled after three seasons, the show received a massive cult following in the 1970s which led to the revival of numerous Star Trek movies & series that still continue today.

Shatner has even recorded a wake-up call that was played for the crew of STS-133 in the Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2011. It was the final day that the shuttle was docked at the International Space Station. Backed by the musical theme from Star Trek, it featured a voice-over based on his spoken introduction from the series’ opening credits:

“Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.”

William Shatner is also the host & executive producer of The UnXplained on The History Channel, which explores the inexplicable, including aliens.

News comes after Blue Origin’s toxic workplace claims

The announcement of Shatner’s upcoming journey comes less than a week after employees at Blue Origin co-signed an essay speaking out against what they describe as a toxic workplace. Blue Origin has since then denied all allegations.

This essay came from a group of 21 current & former employees at Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos. The essay speaks out against what they call a toxic workplace where “professional dissent” is “actively stifled,” and several male leaders often engage in sexist behavior.

Fear & anxiety about stepping out of line with CEO Bob Smith’s inner circle is constant, according to the essay. At one point, Smith had allegedly distributed a list of perceived “troublemakers” to senior leaders.

The essay signatories also criticize alleged sexist behavior at Blue Origin, detailing a work environment in which women’s ideas are routinely rejected and certain male executives are known to condescend to female employees.

One senior leader, also a member of Smith’s alleged circle, was the subject of “multiple” HR complaints deriving from his “consistently inappropriate [behavior] with women,” the essay claims.

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