Mr. Bezos, who has said he was inspired by “Star Trek” as a boy, listened, still as a statue. He may have been giving Mr. Shatner some space, but it was a sharp contrast to his appearance after his own brief spaceflight in July, when he was aboard the same spacecraft. Then, Mr. Bezos held forth from a stage, rousing condemnation from critics of the vast company he founded as he thanked Amazon’s employees and customers for making it possible for him to finance his private space venture.
Mr. Shatner shared the capsule on Wednesday with three other passengers: Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice president who oversees New Shepard operations, and two paying customers: Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of the Earth-observation company Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, a co-founder of a company that builds software for clinical researchers.
The launch Wednesday morning was pushed back by roughly an hour by two pauses to the launch countdown — caused in part by extra checks to the spacecraft and winds near its launchpad. The quartet was driven in electric pickup trucks to Blue Origin’s launchpad, roughly an hour before liftoff, flanked by Mr. Bezos and company employees.
For a moment, it appeared Mr. Bezos, dressed in a flight suit like the one he wore in July, would join them in flying to space. But he closed the hatch door before leaving the pad, sending the crew on their journey.
The rocket lifted off at 9:49 a.m. Central time, ascending nearly as fast as a speeding bullet at 2,235 miles per hour and sending the crew some 65.8 miles high. The whole trip lasted 10 minutes, 17 seconds, and gave the four passengers about four minutes of weightlessness.
Mr. Boshuizen, talking to reporters after the flight, likened the crew’s entry into space to a stone hitting the surface of a lake. “I was trying to smile but my jaw was pushed back in my head,” he said.