Blue Origin's space flight with William Shatner lifts off to space

San Francisco



Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' space venture Blue Origin has blasted off its second human flight to space, with the original Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk (actor William Shatner) onboard, the company said.

The lift-off took place a little after 9 a.m. CDT (7.30 p.m. India time) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in Texas.

"Liftoff! #NewShepard has cleared the tower with astronauts on board for the second time. #NS18," the company tweeted.

The launch marks New Shepard's 18th mission, and the second crewed flight to space.

The NS-18 is carrying four astronauts to space and back: Shatner, who will be the oldest man ever to travel to space, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries, co-founder of software company Medidata, and Audrey Powers, Vice President of missions and flight operations.

The mission will last nearly 10 minutes. The fully automated and reusable New Shepard rocket will fly beyond the Karman line, 100 km above the ground and the internationally recognised boundary of space where the passengers can experience 3-4 minutes of microgravity.

The five-storey tall New Shepard rocket, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, is designed to launch a crew capsule with seats for six roughly 340,000 feet into the sky toward the edge of space.

The booster is topped by a gumdrop-shaped Crew Capsule with space for six passengers inside and large windows.

After reaching the Karman line, the capsule will detach from the booster, allowing those inside to view the curvature of the earth and experience weightlessness.

The booster and capsule will then land separately, with the capsule landing in the west Texas desert with the help of parachutes.

The space flight was initially scheduled for launch on Tuesday, but got delayed due to unfavourable weather.

"#NewShepard is go for launch! The mission team has completed the Flight Readiness Evaluation prior to #NS18. This is our final meeting with the engineers and Mission Control team to ensure all systems are go for launch," the company said on Twitter on Wednesday prior to launch.

"Forecasted winds at launch have subsided and weather currently looks good for Wednesday," it added.

On July 20, Blue Origin successfully carried its first human flight which included Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Blue Origin's first customer, Oliver Daemen - IANS

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