For the first time in his life, at the age of 90, the man who “boldly” went “where no one has gone before” on television, touched the edges of outer space, and he says he will never be the same.
William Shatner, the iconic “Captain Kirk” of the “Star Trek” TV series going strong after half a century, was overcome with emotion after his 11-minute flight Wednesday on billionaire Jeff Bezos’ private Blue Origin rocketship.
In a live TV shot with the Amazon.com founder in the Texas desert, Shatner tried to find words to describe what clearly was a transcendent experience.
“What you see is black. And what you see down there is light,” he said, his voice catching throughout the conversation.
“But to see the blue color, whip by you, and to be staring into blackness. And you look into black ugliness, and you look down at the blue down there, and the black up there,” Shatner continued.
“There is mother Earth and comfort, and there is, I don’t know, death? Is that the way death is? Whup! And [life is] gone?
“It was so moving to me. This experience did something unbelievable.”
Shatner, a Blue Origin executive and two high-paying customers traveled 62 miles above the Earth in three minutes, rising barely above the “Karman line” that marks the edge of space, experiencing weightlessness for about three minutes.
They landed miles from the launch site, in the desert east of El Paso, Texas.
“Everybody in the world needs to see this; it was unbelievable,” Shatner said.
The weightlessness was quite an experience, he said, but something happened that he “never expected.”
“It’s like a beat and a beat, and suddenly you’re through the blue, and you’re into black … and it’s rough, it’s mysterious, it’s galaxies and things, but what you see is black. And what you see down there is light.”
He turned to Bezos, putting his hands on the shoulders of the world’s richest man.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience,” he said. “I’m so filled with emotion about just what happened. It’s extraordinary.”
Shatner said he hopes to “never recover from this.”
“I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so … so much larger than me and life,” he said.
The actor explained that his feelings don’t having anything to do with the idea of “the little green planet, the blue orb.”
“It has to do with enormity, and the quickness and suddenness of life and death and … oh my God,” he said, wiping tears. “It was so moving.”
“I can’t even begin to express,” he said, “the vulnerability of everything.”
Shatner then touched on what some scientists call the fine-tuning of the universe, the variables in its many parameters that, against all odds, are precisely what they must be to sustain life.
“This air that’s keeping us alive, it’s thinner than your skin,” it’s “immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe,” he said.
“It’s negligible, this air,” he said. “Mars doesn’t have it.
“And when you think of carbon dioxide changing to oxygen, what is it, 20%, that level, that sustains our life? It’s so thin.”
Bezos noted how fast Shatner moved in just 50 miles, “and you’re in blackness.”
“And you’re in death,” Shatner added.
“This is life,” Bezos said, pointing to the downward.
“And that’s death,” Shatner said, as Bezos pointed upward.
“And in an instant,” Shatner said, “you go, whoa! That’s death!”
“That’s what I saw,” he said. I am overwhelmed. I had no idea.”
See Shatner’s remarks:
“I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary”
— CNN (@CNN) October 13, 2021
In a new “space race,” Bezos’ Blue Origin is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to attract high-paying customers who want to experience outer space.
The three competitive billionaires, dubbed the “NewSpace set,” say they were inspired by the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when the U.S. beat the Soviet Union to the moon.
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