Beam me up, Jeffrey.
Those words are little likely to pass through William Shatner’s mind on Wednesday, as the original Captain Kirk went into space aboard the New Shepard spacecraft owned by Jeff Bezos’ commercial spaceflight venture Blue Origin.
He spent just over 10 minutes rocketing upward and returning to Earth — four miles from the edge of space — more than 66 miles away. It was an undoubtedly sensible public relations move for the embroiled company, which has recently come under fire for accusing current and former employees, in an essay, of a toxic culture “that ignores the plight of our planet, turning a blind eye.” sexism, isn’t attuned enough to security concerns, and silences those who want to make mistakes.”
In fact, as a PR stunt, it rivaled only Blue Origin’s first in-universe effort. It found 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, one of the first women in space to go to space with Bezos and his brother, Mark, in 1961. Aside from the “Star Trek” tie-in, 90-year-old Shatner became the oldest person to exit Earth’s atmosphere, a fact that’s basically catnip for headline-seeking journalists.
Minimizing the PR move, however, may be of personal interest. Bezos has a genuine interest in the “Star Trek” series, which he discusses advertising in interviews and which inspired the name of his dog, Kamala (you know, the Creosian empathic metamorph).
But when did this love affair begin? What else has the show inspired in her life?
We are immersed in these questions. But first, repeat after us: Jeff Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.
How did Bezos get interested in space?
Bezos fell in love with the universe before he fell in love with “Star Trek.” As a boy, he spent summers in Texas with his grandfather, a former Atomic Energy Commission engineer. The two launched into space together and shared a love of science fiction.
“‘Star Trek’ is the easiest thing to do to shine, but it was much more than that,” biographer Brad Stone said in an interview.
When he graduated from high school, Bezos ended his closing speech with the words “Space: The Final Frontier.” meet me there.”
As a student at Princeton, Bezos combined the pop culture of “Star Trek” with the more serious work of professor and physicist Gerard O’Neill, who saw space stations home to humans orbiting Earth. After college, Bezos watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” parties for his friends, Stone said.
Space, real or imaginary, was always a big part of his life.
– When did he fall in love with “Star Trek”?
The show premiered in 1966—two years after Bezos was born—with Shatner as Captain Kirk. It will take up to the fourth grade for the Amazon founder to discover the Starship Enterprise. When he did, he was struck by the show in a way that only a kid can do.
“When I was in fourth grade, my friends Dean and Kyle, who lived under a house or two in Houston, Texas, played ‘Star Trek’ almost every day,” Bezos told Washington Post executive editor Martin Barron. Were.” At a 2016 event organized by The Post. “And we’d fight over who would be Captain Kirk, or Spock, and someone even played a computer. And it was actually a lot of fun — we’d have little phasers of cardboard and cardboard tricorders, you know. Good days.”
The echoes of the show can be found for a lifetime. In addition to naming his dog Kamala, he also named one of his holding companies Zefram LLC after the character Zefram Cochrane who invented the warp drive.
He discussed how the show, and his general love of science fiction, helped inspire him to found a commercial spaceflight venture. But the show also played a key role in creating the Amazon Echo.
“Our vision, in the long term, is it will become a ‘Star Trek’ computer. You can ask it anything, ask it to do things for you, tell it to find things for you, and so on.” It would be easier to have a conversation in a natural way,” he told Baron. “The original inspiration was the ‘Star Trek’ computer.”
– Who was his favorite character?
If you ask Amazon’s Alexa who is the best “Star Trek” captain, she’ll answer, “Of all the captains of all the galaxies, Captain Picard is my favorite.”
It’s no coincidence that Bezos feels the same way. She once gleefully shared that the actor who portrayed Picard was clearly infatuated with Patrick Stewart.
Though Kirk may be the man in space, Bezos never shied away from reminding the world that he adores Picard — usually on Twitter. “Kirk or Picard? Picard!” Bezos tweeted shortly after walking the red carpet with Stewart at the Academy Awards in March 2018.
They almost named Amazon “mekitso.com” after Picard’s catchphrase, Inc. reports.
In fact, “As time went on, Bezos and Picard changed physically. Like the interstellar explorer portrayed by Patrick Stewart, Bezos shaves off the remaining strands on his high-gloss pâté and achieves a cast-iron physique,” Franklin Foyer wrote in The Atlantic in 2019.
Bezos hasn’t publicly stated why he admires Picard, but let’s make a modest guess: Picard is a prolific official, historian, and diplomat who played a major role in the events of the 24th century. Even Spock was impressed: “He is remarkably analytical and impartial for a human being. … has an almost Vulcan quality to a man.”
– Is it true that he appeared in the movie “Star Trek”?
Positive! Bezos played an alien Starfleet officer in 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond,” which he called “a bucket list” dream on Twitter.
“For years, I’ve been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a ‘Star Trek’ movie,” he said that year. “I’m very determined, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call: ‘You have to let Jeff Bezos be in your “Star Trek” movie.’ “
Bezos said he was prepared to be unrecognizable, but wanted a speaking part — and one that was central to the plot so it didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
Bezos appears in the film’s first five minutes as an alien Starfleet officer stationed at the Yorktown starbase in 2263, who scans Kalara as she pleads for help from Commodore Paris and Captain Kirk. “Speak normally,” Bezos tells him. The cameo role required such extensive makeup that she could only drink through a straw.
“That was awesome,” director Justin Lin told the AP. “It was like a president was visiting, you know? He had a big crew! But it didn’t matter because he was involved. He had to wait all day because it was a day when we were three different- Were shooting like different scenes and credit goes to Jeff too because…
– What other science fiction does he enjoy?
Although “Star Trek” is his most public science-fiction obsession, it is far from his only one. As a child, Bezos used to hold all the books of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein in his hands. Nowadays, he makes sure to read new genre writers like Alastair Reynolds, Ernest Cline, and Andy Weir.
The film and TV arm of their online empire, Amazon Studios, has focused on producing sci-fi. Most notably, the service rescued “The Expanse”, a beloved show based on the novels by James S.A. Corey, which had been canceled by its parent network, Syfy.
Christian Davenport of the Washington Post said on the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, “Something that[Bezos]wants to do is not just to achieve success in space — making rockets reusable — but also to strengthen interest in space.” To do.”
As Davenport reports, Bezos decided to find Blue Origin after watching “October Sky,” a movie about NASA engineer Homer Hickam with science fiction author Neil Stephenson. But, by that time, he had been interested in space for a long time.
As his high school girlfriend Ursula Werner once said: “Jeff started Amazon to get enough money to do Blue Origin. He was intrigued by the idea of rocketing into outer space.”
“I can neither confirm nor deny it,” Bezos said later, when asked about his theory.
In any event, we know one thing for sure: Live longer and profit.