Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket carries William Shatner into space
Watch live as Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket launches William Shatner and other astronauts into space. At the age of 90, Shatner, known for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, is the oldest person to make the trip.
moments ago ready to blast off from this launch site in west texas in just a few minutes. We're about 30 seconds. There's been some holds this morning. So they're a bit delayed about 45 minutes delayed but we're about to watch it happen. And I want to bring in tom Costello who covers space and aviation for us and tom give us a sense of what these astronauts can expect today. Well the within two minutes of launch. So 2-3 minutes once they're off the actually off the tower they're actually going to have a separation from the rocket. The capsule will be separated from the booster rocket. The spaceship will continue on towards its apogee Hitting a height of about 62 miles up over that. Carmen line the delineation uh internationally recognized for space. And that's when they will get that 3 to 4 minutes of weightlessness and that's about it. Right? 3 to 4 minutes of weightlessness. Before the capsule starts coming back down again, descending under parachutes back down to earth. So the total trip here Is 11 minutes. It's very similar to what they did in July on the first mission. But this one has Captain Kirk and that's why we're here 90 years old. And he tells me he's nervous about this. I said wait a minute. You battled Romulans and Klingons and he said yeah but this is real life and he is nervous but he's excited tom we are in I. R. L. In real life and this is about to happen. We're just a few moments from launch. That's the launchpad now this is a capsule and we're starting to see some movement here that will be released from a booster rocket. The booster rocket will then land back to Earth while the capsule as you mentioned is catapulted past the Karman line. Remember that that is the internationally recognized place where space begins And they will feel that zero gravity and what a ride down as well because then they're gonna feel five times the feel of gravity. Yeah that's right. And the entire trip I mean I think we should underscore comes right back down here to the same place where they lift off from there's a landing zone not far away. Just as that space ship is hitting the ground. Retro rockets fire to give it a very gentle settling down into the desert sand here In west Texas. They have been practicing dozens of times over and over and over again. Getting in and out of those seats so they don't get stuck unable to get back into the seats when they descend again. But what's so critical is enjoying those 3-4 minutes of weightlessness that they're promised. We're about a minute away from launch our T -1 minute. I've always wanted to say that tom but just so people are clear the astronauts aboard this mission are not flying this aircraft. It's remote controlled in essence all controlled from the ground and on board. You don't have any professional astronauts at all. They won't be astronauts until they go into space in just a few minutes. We've got 30 seconds to go here. I want to bring in Mike Massimino, who is a former NASA astronaut locked many hours in space. Just what these folks might be feeling in this moment is that they're probably starting to feel a little rumble beneath them. Mike. Hi Savannah. Thanks for having me. Uh, yeah, I think there's a lot of anticipation probably thinking about things like how they got there. Each one took a different path to get there remembering those things and realizing that they ended up today on good. That rocket ready to go. Let's listen in and watch this launch. Blue Origin headed to face the full of the tower. She is on her space with the second human spaceflight. True. What a launch here on our least max cube. The first milestone here on his flight to space. Yeah, yeah. Tom we expect this trajectory, the booster and the capsule to last about three minutes or so. Actually at two minutes they have separation between the booster and the capsule confirmed This is when the aerodynamic stresses on the vehicle were at their maximum. Let's make the point if we can savannah, we are listening to the voice blue Origin. Mission control. This is not Nasa. This is a private companies Voice of mission control and we are, we are very much dependent on their voice and their knowledge as to what's going on reason and they are And the folks aboard that capsule have been prepped for all the bumps, all the feelings, all of the noises that they may be experiencing right now. That was part of their safety training. Right tom Thank you again everybody for joining us live. That's right. Second human flight with Audrey again, your will. You're listening to the customer and the voice of Blue Origin. There's an on board. They are well on their way to space So far a nominal flight. A clean burn on our blue engine three new Shepard giving them a beautiful flight to space this morning, nominal forces Nasa terminology meaning it's all going great. Um Absolutely. Right. So they have been practicing this dozens of times for the last few days, over and over and over again and listen. You know, at the age of 90 it's not necessarily easy to get in and out of that seat. That's what Shatner has been working on main engine cut off. The B. E. Three engine has shut off and in just a moment we're going to separate the capsule from the booster and at that point our astronauts will have the opportunity To get out of their harnesses and enjoy the beauties of zero G. Let's wait to listen. Mhm. And there, you can see a clean separation between the capsule and the booster. That's a beautiful shot. Now Savannah. We are going to be very much just dependent on listening to open microphones inside the space there. You can see they hear them enjoying the booster, zero G tom. Do you expect to see sent over the carmen? Any signal from you'll know the capsule, Its speed hit zero. I'm sorry, I'm sorry Savannah did not catch your question. My apologies. What did you say? You talked about the open mics? We might hear some from inside the capsule. Would you expect to see any images or is that something? We'll see later. Our crew capsule. Uh, if it's, if we follow the same script as in july, they provide most of those images after their back down on earth. So, um, I think what we can bank on hopefully our is the live audio feed of them and join zero G. And then once they are back down on earth, we should see those images released Now. The capsule is going about 64. Shop into the, into that very short. I was gonna say when you're riding a fast rocket, you get there quick At about 350. Yeah, exactly. I mean literally it's an 11 minute trip. Right? So there they are almost halfway through the trip already, Jackie, they're having the time of their lives. So we're getting the narration from the Blue origin. Uh, official telling us what she must be seeing or hearing in terms of the crew now experiencing zero G. That kind of iconic moment that so many people dream of. Um, and they'll get to experience that for about three minutes and in the meantime tom that it's, it's fascinating in such a feat of technology that booster rocket that carried them to this place will be landing almost a pinpoint landing. So it can be reused again. That's exactly the same technology in some way. The same idea that SpaceX uses Elon musk uses to make SpaceX become a viable, uh, you know, alternative to essentially losing your booster rockets as soon as you use them up. So it will come right back down and land right back down here on earth. You know, we should also make the point Savannah that this is now the 18th mission. The 18th mission for Alan Shepard, The new Shepard, I should say the new Shepard rocket named after Alan Shepard. The last one had humans on it. This one has humans on it. All the others or test flights and our very own Audrey powers. Let's bring in joan Higginbotham, also an astronaut who has spent hundreds of hours in space and joan, you are one of the few that could describe how they might be feeling right now experiencing zero gravity for the first time. Yeah, thank you so much for everything And I just want to say hi to mike Massimino, my classmate. So if you're up there, experience Cyril G, they're probably, I have the best there like a kid in a candy store. It's uh, the first time you get to experience, it is a real treat. Um you have no choice but to float up to the top of the cabin wherever you are. Um and it's, it's just a thrill to be able to do things in a microwave, grab microgravity environment that you never get to do in your everyday life. And and, and mike, uh bring you in here. You can say hi back to your colleague, Joan. But also, what is the view like up there? This is a sub orbital trip to space. So they're not in space orbit. What might they be seeing out that window? Well, first, hi johnny great to see. Uh yeah, they're seeing some things. You can kind of get an idea by the shots were saying one cool thing is the sky goes dark on you, even though it's, you know, the sun's out when you get above the atmosphere, you you look at the stars and around you and you see a black sky, but looking back down on the Earth. Yeah, they're not really that high relative to where the space station is. For example, there are 60 miles up. As tom explain, You can see some detail, but you also can see, I think from where they are, Some, you know, the horizon. Uh the beauty of the Earth. You don't see the borders. So you're seeing things with a much different perspective than anything you can get on Earth or even in an airplane. So it's, it's really uh are inspiring moment when you unstrap flow to the window. And this spaceship was meant for viewing the Earth with big windows and looking down at our, at our home. It really can be a life changing experience. I think it will be for each of them and meanwhile back here on Earth. Tom, correct me if I'm wrong, we just witnessed the return to Earth of that booster capsule About two miles from where it embarked a few minutes ago. They nailed the landing right on the money. We had a sonic boom here on the ground. And this is just amazing technology that they're able to bring that rocket booster right back down and uh, and nail it right here in the west texas desert. So that is what's making this economical for companies like Blue origin like SpaceX to be taking people into Earth back to, I'm sorry, into space and back to Earth. And I'm watching now the feed of the space capsule now descending as well. There's a little bit of a lag time before it hits the air. But we are seeing now the space capsule underneath parachutes, it too is now starting to descend down to Earth. So all of this appears to have gone absolutely perfectly. So far as the feed will very quickly now switch over to the spaceship. So here's the capsule our astronauts are aboard. We can call them astronauts now because they've been to space and this is they describe it as a high speed plunge back to earth at least before the parachutes are deployed. Your body has to be able to withstand five G five times the force of gravity. Uh we'll turn to our astronauts for this mike Massimino, I'll start with you. What does that feel like? I mean that's got to be pretty tough on the body. Some people can get that tunnel vision, some people pass out what would you expect? Well I think they'll be fine. The way that the spacecraft is designed there have these seats, you're recumbent, you're laying down. So whatever any G forces you take, you're gonna take those in the chest. But that's why it's really important to be strapped back in into the seat. And then we talked about getting out and getting back in. You want to be back in your seat and lying down in that seat to protect you from those deeds. It'll be a little uncomfortable. I felt like we took up the three Gs on launch for example, I felt like there's three times your body weight. I felt like there were three big dudes sitting on me. That's what it kind of felt like And then and then it subsides but it's interesting because they've been weightless for a little bit and so whatever Gs they take on the way down, it's going to be amplified because after you float for a little bit And you get used to zero gravity, even a little bit of G feels like a lot you see there about, I would say about 90 seconds or so from making that landing, Joan. What do you imagine is going through their minds right now? I mean that was a very quick trip. It was an extremely trip, quick quick trip. But I still know that they're enamored at what they got to do and they're still feeling that high from being able to look at our beautiful world from a different vantage points. So even though they're going to be taken on a whole bunch of Gs right now though their mind is still on what they have just experienced tom what do we expect as we watch these final moments of their big mission to space. Uh, what's the protocol after they've just touched down there? We see that cloud of dust. So I think they're close to touchdown if they haven't already the newest astronauts. Well, you know, you know what the headline is going to be around the world. Captain Kirk goes to space and comes back and land safely. So this is a great day for him, a great personal triumph for him and, and let's be candidates, a big and a great day for blue origin as well. Now they will be on the ground for about 22 minutes before they will pull them or or help them get out of the capsule. They need to make sure that that the entire vehicle is off gassed if you will you get rid of all the potentially dangerous fumes and gases. But this just has gone perfectly. And there was a quote by the way on twitter from William Shatner and he says the following, I'm going to quote William Shatner's tweet quote. 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 and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. So I think he's trying to wax poetic. I suspect he actually composed that in that tweet before he went up and then he hit the send button. I think Sir William Shatner is already tweeting I'm being told and I confess to not knowing this off the top of my head that it's a quote of Sir Isaac Newton which of course is poetic in its own right. But yes, he was a pre programmed tweet that got sent. So we'll have to get the off the cuff response from William Shatner and the fellow passengers, one of them is a blue Origin employee and then the other two are paying customers and tom this isn't a cheap ticket. It's a quick one but it's not a cheap ticket. Quarter million dollars we believe is how much that the two paying passengers paid for this. And both of them are successful business entrepreneurs who can afford it. William Shatner was invited to go along. Um, I gotta tell you, I think they're paying him and all honesty because he's also been asked to do so much media, you gotta compensate the guy for his time. But so all of this is part of Blue origins. Big public relations push to get the message out about, you know, putting people in space and the commercialization of space, the space tourism business. Uh, and you know, Savannah, I'm I'm not sure that you and I would be doing this coverage live on network television if it weren't for the fact that Captain Kirk is on board right now. Well they're good at space travel and they're good at pr to, they know how to get attention. Is sending the original Captain Kirk to the place where no man has both gone before. If you have is a good P. R. Move. No question about it. Actually, you raise a good discussion point and we're probably about 10 minutes or so before we see these astronauts disembarked from this capsule and perhaps hear from them or at least get to read the looks on their faces. But Mike. Massimino, I'll ask you, what do you is the value of a flight like this and this new era of commercial space travel. Well, so then I think what it what it does is it opens up the opportunities to fly in space and not only for the people we see, but also for researchers, uh experiments. My students, I teach at Columbia two years ago. They, one of those flights that they mentioned previously before they put people on board, they flew an experiment into space at low cost. So it opens it up for for research for for people who want to go to experience spaceflight as tourists or observers as we see today. And it's not just for anybody every just a select few now, it can be for more and more people granted you need some cash to go right now. But I think that that price is gonna go down and the the automation involved, it doesn't take very much training a couple of days emergency procedures. That's all it takes. Its its minimal training. Uh you don't have to dedicate your career like Joan and I did to get the chance to fly in space. So it's gonna allow more people to go. And hopefully that price keeps coming down, reusability that we saw that that that rocket ship landing very close by to where it took off from. You can turn it around fairly quickly. And so hopefully that price will continue to come down and more and more people will get to experience this and it will help, I think not just in research and projects that people want to do, but also in just a global perspective, the fragility and the beauty of our planet really sinks in when you get to see it from space. Yeah, I was just gonna raise that with joan Higginbotham because when you talk to people such as yourselves who have been there and seeing the earth from that very rare vantage point, people do say it changes you even if it is just for a fleeting few moments that that that that perspective really has an impact. Did you find that to be the case, joan? I absolutely did. I actually did a ted talk and Bermuda over um about two years ago about my experience in space and how as I came back to earth, I had a better perspective and appreciation like mass said to the fragility of the earth and its beauty and the fact that we really need to be very careful how we treat her because we only have one. Um and then it just gave me a better appreciation for humanity. Um and my my overall goal, what the promise I made was that to be kinder and gentler to humanity because we're all in this world together. Um what we do affects the next person and so I want to be a person who brings good uh and change for the my my fellow human, well this certainly is helping others to have that perspective as well. Um and as I turn to you tom Costello, we have just seen the booster rocket reposition itself and come back down to earth. And one of the extraordinary features of the Blue Origin vehicle is that it is reusable and Blue Origin has much larger ambitions than just a joy ride. Although let's keep it look, keep an eye on this shot actually cause it looks like there might be about to knock on the door and say hello. It's more exciting, literally there literally trying to get a thumbs up from every one of the astronauts inside to make sure that all of them are okay. That's what she's doing, looking at each one of them through the windows, making sure that they're okay. And then now they're securing the capsule. You know, we had roughly 70 mile per hour winds here yesterday. So that's why they didn't do this as planned yesterday. They're doing it now instead. Uh and it's a beautiful day here and no winds whatsoever. And so now we'll see this how they're able to disembark. And the wires are quoting Shatner saying that was unlike anything they've described. So I think we'll hear more from him and from all of those who have had the experience of a lifetime as they take these few minutes to open the doors and we'll see what are our first few uh seconds with them are, would you expect with that brief time in space mike that they'd have, you know, that they wouldn't have their sea legs that they might feel a little jiggly or woozy or dizzy. Well it's a pretty short time that they are up there. I think what we sort the other crew, they were able to uh you know, stand up and get up and walk out and wave and and move around. So I think that they will probably be just fine. But just in case I would suggest to them and they'll probably be doing this just taking a little bit slow. Make sure they get up and feeling good before they move around too quickly. But but just a few minutes of weightlessness, their adaptation coming back should not be a big deal. Tom we were just starting to talk about it. But I know we're keeping our eye on this capsule because we want to see those first images. But Blue Origin does have much larger ambitions. Tell us about that to the capsule. And who is going to be checking on it? Uh listen right now, Blue Origin and as you know owned by Jeff Bezos uh they have much bigger ambitions. They want to go to the moon. They are in a fight back and forth with Elon musk and SpaceX over getting to the moon and setting up a moon base and providing the infrastructure and the rockets to get there. Uh, Nasa though has awarded SpaceX the lunar contracts. Not Jeff Bezos and not of course Blue Origin and that has been a big bone of contention. Bezoza you know even threatening legal action against Nasa. And then you had for example Elon musk telling Bezoza you can't get to the moon by suing your way. They're real competition between Jeff Bezos and Elon musk. But at the moment, at the moment Elon musk and SpaceX have the Nasa contract to try to go to the moon to create and build on Moonbase to provide the rockets to get their SpaceX at the moment. Apart me Blue Origin at the moment does not I wouldn't give up on that though. The infrastructure they have built here in the desert. I'll just tell you savannah this is not fly by night. They have built a tremendous infrastructure. They are planning to go long and deep and for the long term I don't know if you were able to keep your eye on the images as you were talking with this time. But it looked like Jeff Bezos kind of knocking through the windows. I don't know is that who you think that was? It certainly looked like it to me. But it was hard to make out. I didn't get a clear view on my screen but that would make sense. I know that he is doing everything he can to be there and be a part of this. He even threat. He even told me last night he was tempted to stow away and be and take one of the extra seats that was not taken. But clearly he decided to stay on the ground. And they received letters from the previous uh passengers astronauts on the first Blue Origin flight and they were said oh you're so lucky we wish we could go back again. So I guess it's a little bit like a roller coaster that you wish you could go right back on and right again the minute you land. I think you're absolutely right. Everybody who has done this has the same experience. Whether you're on one of these types of quick trips as a tourist or you're a Nasa astronaut who goes to the station. How many times have you heard Nasa astronauts say they spent 34 or five months up there and they can't go wait to go back. It's such a different experience, A life fulfilling experience. But it is astonishing how 3-4 minutes of weightlessness will completely change your viewpoint. And I'm now looking at and you're going to see it in the second here, Brazos, it appears is opening the hatch. Let's keep our again. Thank you everybody for joining us. Live from west texas at our launch site. One. Our second human space flight crew has gone to space and back up over the Karman line just over 351,000 ft. Or awaiting Jeff Bezos who is now opening the hatch. Yes. No. Well yeah. Mhm. All of them appear healthy. All of them seem to be able to exit on their own power. He said hello astronauts as he poked his head through the hatch door, hung up first. Yeah. Oh, there's Audrey powers. A big hug from her sister. Audrey powers, the vice president of mission and flight operations at Blue Origin, the only Blue Origin employee. And there it is our customer Crispus house in the first full Australian citizen to go to space and back and blend of res. Yeah. Mm Okay. I don't know if you can hear that savannah. He just William Shatner just said it's fun. I ran away. Well, I'll tell you. Um, he was really nervous about this. Um, he said it on our air. He said it in conversations with me, He was nervous about this trip. He said, I really want to come back down. Let's listen to see if we can catch up with this. My the person I have but I never expected to is you're shooting up Oh my gosh, give me a loose game bottle. Come here. I want one. I want to hear this. I, the champagne showers have become smiles all around William Shatner taking in the moment clearly what you built. Yeah. Everybody in the world needs to do good. Everybody needs to see the wait was unbelievable. Unbelievable. I mean, you know the little things way but to see the blue cover by now you're staring into black. That's the thing. The covering of blue is the sheet is blanket, this company, this comforter of blue that we have around. We said, oh, that's blue sky. And there's something you shoot through it all of a sudden you whip off the sheet off when you're asleep and you're looking into blackness into black ugliness and you look down blue down there and the black up there and it's it's just there is mother and earth comfort and their it's their death. I don't know what's that? Death is that death is whip and it's gone, jesus. It was so moving to me. This experience did something unbelievable, you see? Yeah, you know, weightless. My stomach went off of that. This is so weird. But not as weird as the covering of blue. This is what I never expect. Oh, it's one thing to say, Oh, the sky and the thing and then fragile. It's all true. But what isn't true? What is unknown? I'll tell you do it is is this pillow there's this soft blue. Look at the beauty of that color and it's so thin and you're through it in an instant. It's what I'll think is it, is it a mile, maybe 50 miles, But you're going to 1000 miles an hour. So you're through 50 miles. Whatever the mathematics fast like a beat and the beat. And suddenly you through the blue and you're into black and you're into, you know, it's it's mysterious and Galaxies and things. But what you see is black and what you see down there is light and that's the difference. And not to have this. You have done something. I mean, whatever those other guys are doing what what isn't they don't, I don't know about that. What you have given me is the most profound experience. I can I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just, it's extraordinary, extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain, but I feel now I don't want to lose it. It's so wow, it's so much larger than me of life. It hasn't got anything to do with the little green planet blue or been asking me to do that. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death of the Almighty God, you're something. It's so beautiful. Beautiful. Yes, beautiful in its way. But no, I mean your words, oh my words, that's just amazing. I don't know, I can't even begin to express what I, what I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible. Hey, the jeopardy the please, the moment you see how the vulnerability of everything, it's so small, this air which is keeping us alive. It's thinner than your skin. It's it's a, it's a it's a sliver it's, it's immeasurably small when you think in terms of the, of the universe, It's it's not, its negative, this Air Mars doesn't happen, nothing. I mean this way and when you think we covered the oxide change to oxygen and what is it? 20% of some of that level of sustains our life. It's so thin To to to dirty it. I mean that's another whole what you're shooting through it so fast so quickly 50 miles and you're just, you're in death the moment this is life, this is life and that's that. And it's in in an instant you go, wow, that's death. Yeah, that's what I saw. That's amazing. That's amazing. I am, I am overwhelmed. I had no idea, you know, we were talking earlier before going well, you know, it's going to be different. Yeah. Whatever that phrase is you have that you have a different view of things. It doesn't begin to, to explain to describe what yeah. What a great love for me. I mean everybody's gonna but and this is now the commercial, everybody, it would be so important for everybody to have that experience through one means or another. I mean maybe you could put it on three D. Where the goggles, you have to have that experience. I mean that's that certainly is a technical possibility. But what you need also relying there in, I'm thinking this one delay after another delay were lying there. Think how do I feel? And I'm thinking, yeah, a little jittery here and they move the page, oh, there's something in the engine. They had an anomaly on the engine they found an anomaly and then we're going to hold a little longer. Are you going to hold a little longer? And I feel this, you know the stomach the biodome inside. And I'm thinking okay, I'm I'm thinking I'm a little nervous here. Another delay. I'm a little more nervous. And then the thing started by the way the simulation is they have to be warm. It's only a simulation. Everything else is much more capture doesn't capture the the and besides what's the jeopardy bang this thing hits, you know that wasn't anything like just a guess what's going to happen to you. Am I going to be able to survive the g fortune? You feel that I am I going to survive it. Yeah. And then I think Good Lord William Shatner talking with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos feeling all the feelings, Talking about philosophy and his feeling of how profound that experience was. He said, I hope I never recover to Jeff Bezos as I bring in um tom Costello. And that that feeling that every astronaut has described apparently chatters feels in spades, I'd say he was a little star struck girls. Yeah, I gotta tell you I had a conversation with him last night and I was struck by how how much he, how much emotion he already felt going into this and how profoundly and deeply he feels about trying to save the planet. And he was getting emotional in the conversation with me last night and now to see this emotion, It's really quite something, it's really quite impressive 90 years old. And one of the first things he said is to Jeff Bezos, everyone should have this experience. We'll, we'll continue to watch this. You can find more on NBC news dot com and MSNBC full wrap up tonight on nightly news. Most of you returned to Today. I'm savannah guthrie in new york. Yeah.