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William Shatner is going to space next week (for real)

More than 50 years after the <em>Star Trek</em> franchise took TV audiences to alien worlds, William Shatner will visit space aboard a Blue Origin spacecraft. Shatner, right, is seen here with castmates Nichelle Nichols and Leonard Nimoy in a 1967 episode of the show.
More than 50 years after the <em>Star Trek</em> franchise took TV audiences to alien worlds, William Shatner will visit space aboard a Blue Origin spacecraft. Shatner, right, is seen here with castmates Nichelle Nichols and Leonard Nimoy in a 1967 episode of the show.

Captain James T. Kirk is blasting off into the final frontier. In the latest sign of the strange new world we inhabit, the actor William Shatner will join the crew of Blue Origin's New Shepard on a spaceflight that's slated to launch on Oct. 12.

"Yes, it's true," Shatner said on Twitter. "I'm going to be a 'rocket man!' "

At 90 years old, Shatner is more than twice the average age of NASA's astronauts. The Canadian actor, singer and writer "will become the oldest person to have flown to space," Blue Origin said as it announced his upcoming trip into space.

The flight is scheduled to lift off from a launch pad in Texas next Tuesday morning. Blue Origin sent its first human flight into space in July, with billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and others aboard.

Shatner will be part of a four-person crew that includes Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries — whom Blue Origin refers to as both customers and astronauts, reflecting the new era of privatized space travel.

The final member of the crew will be Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers, a former NASA flight controller and engineer who oversees the New Shepard program's flight operations.

"I'm so proud and humbled to fly on behalf of Team Blue," Powers said in a news release about the voyage.

Shatner will be visiting space more than 50 years after he first took TV audiences to alien worlds as the fictional captain of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek.

"I've heard about space for a long time now. I'm taking the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle," Shatner said.

After the news broke on Monday, Shatner spent the morning thanking well-wishers and exuding excitement about his upcoming trip.

"My man!" Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander wrote of Shatner's late-career pivot. "I guess this means I have to become a marine biologist."

"It's never too late to experience new things my friend," Shatner replied.

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