STAR TREK AND REAL SPACE flight have crossed paths before. A Space Shuttle test orbiter was christened Enterprise. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, appeared in The Next Generation. Two astronauts cameoed in Enterprise. But all of those were knocked into a cocked hat on 13 October 2021, when James T Kirk himself blasted off – a flight documented in Amazon special Shatner In Space.
The idea came from producer Jason Ehrlich, whom Shatner worked with on celebrity travel show Better Late Than Never. It was Ehrlich who contacted Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, proposing a rather more far-flung destination. “We go to their HQ,” Shatner tells Red Alert, “and in the lobby are all these spaceships from Star Trek. There’s Jeff Bezos hovering, and we took pictures. Then we sit down with his advisors and talk about what we’d like to do. They say, ‘This is a great idea, we’ll call you back.’ And then Covid hits.”
When the crew of Blue Origin’s first manned flight was announced, the 90-year-old Shatner didn’t make the cut. That’s that, it seemed. Until a call offering a seat on the second flight. “I said to Jason, ‘Second time is like getting the Vice President job. I don’t want to go. It’s too much trouble. There’s that O-ring thing [cause of the Challenger disaster], there’s the Hindenburg…’ Then I had time to think about it, and thought, ‘Y’know, the thrill of going up there might be interesting…’”
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