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William Shatner boldly went into space for real. Here's what he saw

Blue Origin's New Shepard lifts off from the launch pad carrying 90-year-old Star Trek actor William Shatner and three other civilians near Van Horn, Texas.
Blue Origin's New Shepard lifts off from the launch pad carrying 90-year-old Star Trek actor William Shatner and three other civilians near Van Horn, Texas.

Updated October 13, 2021 at 11:08 AM ET

Blue Origin's second human spaceflight has returned to Earth after taking a brief flight to the edge of space Wednesday morning.

Among the four passengers on board — there is no pilot — was William Shatner, the actor who first played the space-traveling Captain Kirk in the Star Trek franchise.

"The covering of blue. This sheet, this blanket, this comforter that we have around. We think, 'Oh, that's blue sky,' " an emotional Shatner said after returning to Earth.

"Then suddenly you shoot through it all of the sudden, as though you're whipping a sheet off you when you're asleep, and you're looking into blackness, into black ugliness."

At age 90, Shatner is now the oldest person to fly into space.

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me," he said in a tweet after landing.

This 1988 file photo shows William Shatner dressed as Capt. James T. Kirk at a photo opportunity promoting the Paramount Studios film "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier."
Bob Galbraith / AP
William Shatner dresses as Capt. James T. Kirk at a 1988 photo-op promoting the film <em>Star Trek V: The Final Frontier</em>.

The rocket system, New Shepard, took off around 9:50 a.m. CT from a launch site near Van Horn, Texas.

Joining Shatner on the flight was a Blue Origin employee and two paying customers.

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns Blue Origin, was on-site for the launch and shook the hands of all four passengers as they boarded New Shepard. The rocket is named after American astronaut Alan Shepard.

The entire suborbital journey lasted about 10 minutes. On part of the trip, the four passengers experienced weightlessness.

The capsule topped out at an apogee altitude of 351,000 feet (about 66 miles up). It then fell back to Earth, landing under a canopy of parachutes in the West Texas desert.

Blue Origin launched its first human spaceflight in July, with Bezos and three others on board.

Wednesday's flight came about two weeks after 21 current and former Blue Origin employees wrote an essay accusing top executives at the space company of fostering a toxic workplace that permits sexual harassment and sometimes compromises on safety. Blue Origin denied the allegations.

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