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'Captain Kirk' to be beamed up to space

LONGUEUIL, Que. - William Shatner is about to get beamed up to outer space, in real life.

But the actor who played James T. Kirk in "Star Trek" won't actually be using a transporter room — he'll be chatting with outer space by phone.

On Thursday, the Montreal-born actor will be participating in a phone chat with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is currently aboard the International Space Station.

Hadfield will also be visible on a video link, which will be broadcast on the Canadian Space Agency's website.

The proverbial hailing frequency was opened last month, as the men had a brief exchange on Twitter.

Using his best Trekkie vocabulary, Hadfield confirmed to the fictional starship captain that he was in "standard orbit" and had detected signs of life on the surface.

The Canadian Space Agency subsequently reached out to Shatner and invited the 81-year-old actor for a longer chat.

It has arranged a 10-minute conversation Thursday morning from L.A. Hadfield's video link will be carried live on the CSA's website: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/webcast.asp

Meantime, Hadfield who is on a five-month space mission, has been sending back photos of the Earth on a daily basis and has received considerable attention for it.

As his continues to send tweets while orbiting the planet every 92 minutes, Hadfield has reached the mark of 300,000 Twitter followers, surpassing even Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In mid-March, around the halfway point of his mission, the Sarnia, Ont., native will become the first Canadian to command the orbiting space laboratory.

Back on the ground, an interim president has been named to replace Steve MacLean, who quit Feb. 1. Industry-watchers say his earlier-than-expected departure might be tied to a lack of direction on the government's space policy.

Gilles Leclerc took over as interim president Monday. Leclerc is the agency's director-general of space exploration.

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