William Shatner's mind-blowing trip to space
On October 13th, 2021, 90-year-old Canadian actor William Shatner became the oldest person to travel to space.
Although Shatner, who is best known for playing the legendary Captain James T. Kirk on 'Star Trek' had been to "space" many times for the television series, it was quite an extraordinary experience to go to outer space for real.
Since returning to Earth, Shatner has been speaking very poetically about the experience. Even though the entire journey lasted just 11 minutes, the actor says that the experience has changed him. Upon touch down, Shatner said, “I hope I never recover from this."
The actor then said, “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, extraordinary. It’s so much larger than me and life."
Shatner continued, "It hasn’t got anything to do with the little green men and the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death."
Image: Screenshot from TODAY
After landing, while embracing Jeff Bezos, Captain Kirk spoke about what it was like making it into space. “Oh, that’s blue sky. And then suddenly you shoot through it, all of a sudden like you whip off a sheet when you’ve been asleep, and you’re looking into blackness. Into black ugliness.”
Shatner then spoke about how the experience made him reflect on death, saying, "There is mother and Earth and comfort. And then, looking up, he said: “Is—is there death? Is that death? Is that the way death is?”
Indeed it seems that blasting off into space had a massive impact on William Shatner, and he feels that everyone should have the same experience.
Shatner said, “To see the blue color whip by you, and now you’re staring into blackness … everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see this.”
With Captain Kirk telling the world that they "need to see this," it seemed at first that Jeff Bezos couldn't ask for better advertising for Blue Origin in the space tourism industry.
Not that Bezos needs it, according to The Guardian, Jeff Bezos "has already sold $100m in tickets," thus advancing his plan to be a leading company in space tourism.
However, Shatner did not pay for his trip up to space, Bezos, who per The Guardian used to pretend he was Captain Kirk when he was a kid, invited William Shatner to take the journey on Blue Origin into the great unknown for free.
While the actor certainly gave Bezos' company plenty of publicity, surely Shatner's biggest takeaway from the experience is not the message that Bezos had in mind for the public.
Since his return to Earth, Shatner simply cannot stop talking about the importance of caring for our beautiful planet and the urgency with which we must act if we are going to save it.
TV show hosts have even gotten slightly uncomfortable with Shatner's pleas for action and have tried to guide the actor into lighter topics.
Image: Screenshot from TODAY
The actor told Chris Cuomo of CNN, “I wish could bring a message of lightness to leaven the terrible news you keep announcing,” but “we’re at a tipping point.”
Image: Screenshot CNN
Shatner's impressions of space also go somewhat against the mission statement of Blue Origin, which talks about eventually taking the masses to live and work in outer space.
The actor also told CNN's Chris Cuomo, “Space is cold and ominous and ugly, and it really threatens death, there’s death there. And you look down, and there’s this warm, nurturing planet.”
Image: Screenshot CNN
Just one day after his historic flight into space, William Shatner appeared on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' and spoke about how the trip was a "wake-up call." Shatner told Jimmy, "You look down, and you see this precious thing, this warm, nurturing Earth, and you see death and life. You're overwhelmed by the possibility of the Earth ending."
Shatner told Fallon, "The message is … we all need a wake-up call every so often in our lives where your life is threatened by something. You may have a near accident or somebody you love has died. And all of a sudden you look at your life and say, ‘Wait a minute, what’s important here?' "
Image: screenshot The Jimmy Fallon Show
However, Shatner is not just talking about loving and caring for family and friends. The actor also means we need to take care of our home, planet Earth. "I was overwhelmed by all the things we need to do and the loves and the losses. It was an enormous moment for me that I never expected," he shared.
Surely, Bezos did not imagine that Captain Kirk would return to Earth only to talk about the urgency of taking better care of the planet.
Even though, according to 'Time,' Bezos promised to donate $1 billion per year for environmental conservation for the next ten years, many say it is not enough.
Bezos company Amazon has a massive carbon footprint, and then, of course, Blue Origin's rockets certainly aren't environmentally friendly. Critics claim that Bezos should be donating even more funds to help the planet, considering he made around $70 billion last year as per Time.
And while Shatner thinks that everyone should have the amazing experience of going to space, the actor doesn't have a burning desire to return.
When TIME reporter Jeffrey Kluger asked him if he wanted to return, Shatner said, “I’m calling you from my beautiful home, overlooking the San Fernando Valley. The sun comes up. I’ve had a lovely egg sandwich my wife made, my two dogs love me, and I’m sitting in a comfortable chair, and I’ve just come from this thrilling thing of life.”