|William Shatner, on left, portrays star-ship Captain James T. Kirk, as he teleports back to the USS Enterprise. In this classic television episode, titled "Assignment Earth", Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock must ascertain the true motives of a mysterious man who teleports to Earth from a planet orbiting a distant star, in the year 1968.|
(Image Sources: Star Trek, https://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/2x26hd/assignmentearthhd0725.jpg)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
UPDATE - 2021 Oct. 11: Launch of Blue Origin Mission NS-18 has been delayed one day, due to high winds expected on October 12. The launch is now expected no earlier than Wednesday Morning, 2021 October 13 at 9:30 a,m. EDT / 8:30 a.m. CDT / 13:30 UTC.
William Shatner, who portrayed the USS Enterprise star-ship Captain James T. Kirk in television and motion pictures on Star Trek, will actually go to Outer Space on WEDNESDAY MORNING (previouslyTuesday morning), in Blue Origin's New Shepard space capsule. The 90-year-old actor will become the oldest person to enter “The Final Frontier.” The launch and mission will be live-streamed on the Internet, beginning 90 minutes before launch.
Internet link to the Blue Origin Live-Stream is near the end of this blog-post.
The Blue Origin spacecraft, New Shepard, is scheduled to launch at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 8:30 a.m. Central Daylight Saving Time (CDT: launch site is in the Central Time Zone) / 13:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Wednesday Morning, 2021 October 13 (previously scheduled Tuesday Morning, 2021 October 12), weather-permitting and provided there are no technical difficulties.
Of course, October 12 is the actual Columbus Day (this year, the Federal Columbus Day holiday will be commemorated on October 11), when in 1492 Italian mariner and explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas (on the island he called San Salvador, in the Bahamas).
Live-Stream coverage will begin at 8:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 a.m. CDT / 12:00 UTC. The Blue Origin Launch Site One is located on a portion of the Corn Ranch, 25 statute miles / 40 kilometers north of the west Texas town of Van Horn. As with the New Shepard flight on July 20, this Blue Origin Mission NS-18 flight will be a short sub-orbital flight, lasting approximately ten minutes.
The New Shepard spaceship will launch like a rocket. Powered flight is expected to last about 110 seconds, reaching an altitude of 25 statute miles / 40 kilometers above mean sea-level. From that point, the spacecraft's momentum is expected to carry it in un-powered flight to the destination of 62 statute miles / 100 kilometers above mean-sea-level.
The crew module will, then, separate from the propulsion module (i.e. rocket) at a point close to the peak altitude of the mission. At that point, as the crew module begins to fall back to Earth, the crew will encounter about three minutes of micro-gravity (a.k.a. “weightless-ness”) and observe the curvature of the Earth from the edge of Outer Space, as well as the blackness of Space.
Then, the crew module will return to Earth, via three large parachutes, landing close to the launch site on the ground, as Russian Soyuz space capsules land. The only exception to the Soyuz-type landing on the ground is that New Shepard includes thrusters which ignite, just before the landing, to help to soften the landing. The total duration of the flight of the crew module is expected to be about ten minutes.
The rocket, which launches the New Shepard capsule, will make a vertical landing near the launch site, similar to the vertical landing of the first stage of SpaceX rockets. Both the crew capsule and the rocket are designed to be re-usable.
Unlike most past human space missions, there will be no pilot or flight engineer aboard the New Shepard crew capsule. This flight will be completely automated, from beginning to end!
In the case of a rocket malfunction or other emergency, New Shepard has, what is described as, a “full-envelope” launch escape system. Solid propellant separation boosters can separate the crew module from the propulsion module, and the crew capsule would then use parachutes to return to Earth.
On July 11, the Virgin Galactic space-plane flew 53 statute miles / 85.295232 kilometers above mean sea-level, just above the 50-statute mile / 80-kilometer altitude determined as the beginning of Outer Space by the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The New Shepard spacecraft intends to go a little higher. Blue Origin will meet the altitude definition of Outer Space determined by an international aeronautic standards and record-keeping body, Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI): 62 statute miles / 100 kilometers above mean sea level, known as the Karman Line.
William Shatner will be joined on this flight by Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, along with commercial customers Dr. Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, Vice-Chair, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Dassault Systèmes and co-founder, Medidata. William Shatner was invited to participate in this mission by Blue Origin and Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos; he is not a paying customer.
As mentioned, at age 90, William Shatner will become the oldest person to fly in Outer Space. On the July 20 flight (New Shepard Mission NS-16, launched on the 52nd anniversary of the first landing of humans on the Moon), Blue Origin had also flown the oldest person to ever fly in Outer Space, 82-year-old Wally Funk.
Previously, the late U.S. Senator John Glenn had held this record, when he launched as a Payload Specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery (mission STS-95) on 1998 October 29, when Senator Glenn was age 77. Of course, John Glenn is well-known for being the first American to orbit the Earth in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 (three orbits in the 4-hour and 55-minute flight) on 1962 February 20, when John Glenn was age 40.
In 1961, Wally Funk was at the top of her “Mercury 13” class of 13 women who all qualified to fly as part of the Woman in Space Program. Ms. Funk is a very experienced pilot with 19,600 flight hours.
However, NASA never pursued flying women in space in the 1960s, even though Russian female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew alone, for almost three days in Earth orbit, beginning on 1963 June 16. NASA did not launch a woman into space until 1983 June 18, when Sally Ride flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger (mission STS-7) and was the third woman to fly in Outer Space.
Blue Origin New Shepard Mission NS-18 LIVE-STREAM ---
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
William Shatner: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shatner
Star Trek: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series
Blue Origin New Shepard Mission NS-18 ---
New Shepard ---
Link 1 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/new-shepard
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Shepard
Blue Origin ---
Link 1 >>> https://www.blueorigin.com/
Link 2 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin
Karman Line: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1rm%C3%A1n_line
Female Aviator & 'Mercury 13' Woman in Space Program Member Wally Funk:Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Funk
Related Blog-Posts ---
"Astro-Calendar: 2021 Oct. / Launches: SpaceX to ISS; NASA to Jupiter Asteroids."Fri., 2021 Oct. 1.
"LIVE-STREAM Early Tue.: Blue Origin Flight to Space w/ 'Mercury 13' Woman & Jeff Bezos." Mon., 2021 July 19.
"LIVE-STREAM Sunday: Virgin Galactic Flight to Space w/ Founder Richard Branson." Fri., 2021 July 9.
"50th Anniversary: 'Star Trek'" Tue., 2016 Sept. 6.
Sunday, 2021 October 10.
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Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator &
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.planetarium.cc Buhl Observatory: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc
* Other Walsh Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/gawweb.html