What a blast: The rush of amateur astronauts

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As veteran actor William Shatner—Captain Kirk of "Star Trek" fame—becomes the latest celebrity to go into space on Wednesday, we look at the recent rush of amateur astronauts.

Beam me up, Bezos

Shatner went where no 90-year-old has gone before aboard Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket.

The Canadian became the oldest person to go into space on the flight, beating pioneering female pilot Wally Funk, 82, who also flew with Bezos in July.

Shatner experienced a few minutes of weightlessness 60 miles (100 kilometres) from Earth, before returning in the reuseable rocket.

Bezos and his brother Mark were also on Blue Origin's maiden mission in July.

Russian first

Last week, Russian actress Yulia Peresild blasted off to the International Space Station with a film director to try to pip the United States in making the first feature film in orbit.

They want to best "Mission Impossible" star Tom Cruise who announced his own movie project with NASA and Elon Musk's SpaceX last year.

They hope to wrap their story about a female surgeon who is dispatched to save a cosmonaut by the time they touch down on Sunday.

Three-day trip

SpaceX sent US billionaire Jared Isaacman and three of his guests into orbit for three days last month. It was the first time Musk's outfit blasted non-professionals into space.

Space Station holiday

Axiom Space are sending three businessmen to the International Space Station for a 10-day stay in January in the first of three trips aboard SpaceX rockets. Musk is also handling an orbital voyage organised by Space Adventures for four paying clients next year.

Fly me to the Moon

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is due to take a trip around the Moon, possibly in 2023, aboard another SpaceX rocket in a mission called dearMoon. He hopes to take eight amateurs with him on the first civilian lunar mission and has already invited "La La Land" and "First Man" film director Damien Chazelle.

Chazelle says he will have to ask his wife.

Virgin troubles

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson took part in a test flight of its rocket-powered spaceplane in July. But it has since been grounded over a "mishap" and the company that made the early running in space tourism hopes to resume flights next year.

© 2021 AFP

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