Captain James K. Kirk of Star Trek came to space; or rather William Shatner, the actor who for decades gave life to the popular character. At the age of 90, she went on to top the list of longest-lived people to travel to space and that until now was led by a woman.
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Mission: Blue Origin NS-18
Flight date: October 13, 2021
Flight Time: 10 minutes and 17 seconds
Total missions: 1
At the age of 90, Canadian actor William Shatner, better known as Captain Kirk, became the longest-lived person to reach space, as a member of Blue Origin’s second manned mission, Jeff Bezos’s space company. “I’ve heard of space for a long time. I take the opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle ”, Shatner had declared before the trip.
Shatner is best known for playing James T. Kirk, the captain of the starship USS Enterprise, both in the original series of Star Trek (1966-1969) as in the first seven films of the franchise. Although the television series was canceled after three seasons, thanks to reruns in the 1970s it became quite a phenomenon, with Captain Kirk becoming a cultural icon.
At the time of the flight, the actor was host and executive producer of The UnXplained On The History Channel, an hour-long non-fiction series explores strange and inexplicable mysteries of the world.
Mission: Blue Origin NS-16
Flight date: July 1, 2021
Flight Time: 10 minutes and 18 seconds
Total missions: 1
The American aviator Mary Wallace Funk, better known as Wally Funk, became the oldest person to arrive in space in July 2021 (an achievement she maintained until October 2021). At the age of 82, Funk was one of the four crew members of the NS-16 mission of the New Sheppard rocket from Blue Origin, with which she fulfilled one of her greatest dreams of youth.
In 1961, when she was just 21 years old, she participated in the “Womens in Space” program, a non-governmental initiative known informally as Mercury 13, in reference to the Mercury project, which brought the first American astronauts into space. In the 1970s, it was rejected by NASA because it lacked an engineering degree.
It is not the only milestone in his career. Funk was also the first civilian flight instructor at a U.S. military base, the first inspector for the United States Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), and the first air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. Safety Board, NTSB).
Mission: STS-95, Discovery
Flight date: October 29, 1998
Flight Time: 9 days, 19 hours and 54 minutes.
Total missions: 2
On February 20, 1962, war pilot John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, as part of Project Mercury, the program that trained NASA’s first seven astronauts.
It took 36 years, including a political career that made him the first astronaut to reach the Senate, for Glenn to have a chance to return to space. At the age of 77, he did so aboard the STS-95 mission of the shuttle Discovery, in a flight that lasted for nine days. For more than two decades, he held the title of the oldest astronaut in history, until he was displaced by Wally Funk.
Mission: STS-80, Discovery
Flight date: December 7, 1996.
Flight Time: 17 days, 15 hours and 53 minutes.
Total missions: 6
At the end of 1996, the American doctor Franklin Story Musgrave spent 17 days and 15 hours orbiting the Earth on the Discovery shuttle. But it was not just any flight, it would be the last of his long career as an astronaut and that made him the longest-lived person until then to reach space.
Story also became the only person who could fly in all five NASA space shuttles: Challenger, Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavor and Columbia. With six academic degrees, he is also considered the astronaut with the most formal education.
Mission: TM-32, Soyuz
Flight date: April 28, 2001.
Flight Time: 7 days, 22 hours and 4 minutes.
Total missions: 1
In addition to being one of the longest-lived people to reach space, Dennis Tito is known for being the first space tourist in history. The American paid about $ 20 million for a ticket on the TM-32 mission of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Tito stayed for seven days on the International Space Station (ISS), where he had the opportunity to manipulate some instruments, although much of the time was spent taking photographs, recording videos or looking through hatches.
Mission: STS-86, Atlantis
Flight date: September 26, 1997.
Flight Time: 10 days, 19 hours and 22 minutes.
Total missions: 3
Jean-Loup Chrétien, the first French astronaut in history, became one of the longest-lived people to reach space. In 1994, Chrétien was chosen by NASA as part of a Group of 15, which three years later allowed him to integrate the STS-86 mission of the shuttle Atlantis.
By 1982, Chrétien a had become the first Frenchman to travel into space with the Franco-Soviet T-6 mission aboard the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft. In 1988, he participated in the Soyuz TM-7 flight, which allowed him to become the first non-American and non-Soviet astronaut to conduct a spacewalk.
Mission: STS-35, Columbia
Flight date: December 2, 1990.
Flight Time: 8 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes.
Total missions: 4
American Vance D. Brand was 59 years old when, aboard the STS-35 mission of the shuttle Columbia, he made the last of his four space flights that he had the opportunity to complete during his career as an astronaut.
Although he was one of the 19 pilots chosen by NASA in 1996 to integrate the Apollo program to explore the Moon, he never had the possibility of traveling to the natural satellite. Its debut was in 1975 on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission, the first joint space flight between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. In addition, he was a member of Columbia’s STS-5 mission, which ushered in the era of NASA’s space shuttles.