William Shatner’s Spaceflight Tweet Channels Isaac Newton

by Jennifer Shea

In a scheduled tweet sent while he was in outer space, legendary actor William Shatner channeled Isaac Newton. The mathematician and scientist is regarded as the leader of the 17th-century Scientific Revolution and the foremost natural philosopher of all time.

“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,” Shatner tweeted, a nod to the famous Newton quote.

On Wednesday, Shatner became the oldest person to visit outer space as the Blue Origin spacecraft New Shepard took off from West Texas. The 90-year-old “Star Trek” star made it safely to the edge of space and back to Earth at 9:50 a.m. ET. The rocket was up there for about 10 minutes.

William Shatner Becomes Oldest Person to Travel to Outer Space

The Wednesday morning voyage was the second successful manned mission for the New Shepard rocket, The Verge reports.

The ship is suborbital. That means it doesn’t gather enough speed to make it into orbit around the Earth. But it does fly farther from the Earth’s surface than Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft. It’s a point of some competition between Branson, who was the first billionaire in space, and Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Blue Origin. Bezos went to space on the New Shepard’s first manned voyage.

The New Shepard voyages last 10 to 11 minutes. On them, the crew gets to experience weightlessness briefly. Then the crew capsule turns back around and returns to Earth.

The crew capsule, located at the top of the rocket, separates from the rocket once it reaches its destination at the edge of space. Then both the capsule and the rocket fall back to Earth, with the capsule landing beneath parachutes.

Shatner’s Trip Had Been Pushed Back

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, Blue Origin had pushed back the launch date of Shatner and his crewmates’ voyage from Tuesday, Oct. 12 to Wednesday, Oct. 13. They were hoping for less windy conditions.

Accompanying Shatner on his journey were former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, software company co-founder Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers.

This marked the 18th flight for the New Shepard. Sixteen of those flights were unmanned tests or research flights.