At the age of 90, the Star Trek star is set to board Jeff Bezos’s space ship today. It’s just the latest chapter in a long relationship between the sci-fi smash and real-life space odysseys

William Shatner to blast off on Bezos rocket to become oldest person in space

‘Risk is our business!” So declared William Shatner in the 1968 Star Trek episode Return to Tomorrow. His character, Cpt James T Kirk, in a speech worthy of his real-life inspiration President John F Kennedy, led his crew through an imaginary potted history of human space exploration: first the moon, then Mars – then on to “the nearest star”.

In a confident gamble on the part of Star Trek’s writers, Kirk explicitly praised the Apollo space program for putting a man on the moon, something that would not happen in reality until the following year. Star Trek, a show forged in the crucible of the cold war space race – despite featuring a Russian navigator on the bridge of the Enterprise – was nailing its colours to the mast, tying its fictional future to the contemporary American space program.

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