“My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; but it felt like a funeral

The Washington Post – William Shatner he hoped that going into space in October 2021 would induce him “into ultimate catharsis” – a sense of connection between all living things. Instead, having faced “the vicious coldness of space”, he found himself confused when the spacecraft blue origin landed and returned to Earth.

touching the ground, Shatner cried, and he wasn’t sure why.

“Everyone was waving bottles of champagne, it was a sense of accomplishment. And I didn’t feel that way. I wasn’t celebrating. I was, I don’t know, shaking my fists at the gods,” Shatner told The Washington Post.

Several hours passed until Shatner realize what he was experiencing: “Great pain… for the planet”. The actor, now 91, has been involved in environmental causes for years. But his October 13 voyage aboard the ship blue origin, which made him the oldest human to visit space, gave that work a new urgency, he said. The juxtaposition of his “cold, dark, black emptiness” with “the warm nourishment of the Earth below” filled him with deep despair and sparked a realization.

Actor William Shatner chats with Audrey Powers, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries
Actor William Shatner chats with Audrey Powers, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries

“I discovered that beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our little planet even deeper,” he wrote in an excerpt from his new book, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder (Go Boldly: Reflections on a Life of Wonder and Admiration), which was published Thursday by the magazine Variety.

For three seasons in the mid-1960s, Shatner brought space, the final frontier, to American homes in the role of Captain James Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series. And it was around this time when he was playing the fictional commander of the USS Enterprise that Shatner read Rachel Carson’s seminal ecological text, silent spring (1962), which he described last year as an eye-opener.

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“I read it and started screaming about global warming,” he said. “But nobody took it seriously.”

Still, Shatner continued preaching pro-environment. he starred in the movie Star Trek IV: The Return Home (1986), in which his team travels through time to save humpback whales, which were endangered at the time because they are the only creatures that can communicate with an alien probe that threatens to destroy Earth. The film was inspired by actions by Greenpeace, which saw donations increase after the blockbuster’s release, and reacted by saying that “the film subtly reinforces why Greenpeace exists.”

In 2009, Shatner scolded the Hewlett-Packard for failing to deliver on its promise to produce a “toxic-free” computer. And he has consistently warned that overpopulation and climate change are existential threats to humanity.

After playing a fictional spaceship captain for decades, Shatner finally got his own chance to venture into the final frontier. In August 2021, two months before his civil flight, Shatner said he wanted to go into space so he could look at “the blue earth’s circumference” and hinted that “a very enterprising friend” had already thought about how to put Shatner in a space plane. civil flight.

Two months later, the blue originthe space company owned by billionaire Jeff Bezosannounced that Shatner and three other passengers would fly into space on their second space mission. In a press release, Shatner described the opportunity to see space as “a miracle”. (Bezos also owns the The Post.)

The day before taking off, Shatner was excited about his impending trip to space. In a music video, he joked about jumping out of the spaceship’s capsule. In another, he said he planned to have his nose pressed against the window and that when he did, he didn’t want to see “a little gremlin” staring at him.

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Then, on launch day, at 9:49 am (local time), Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket — named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go into space — took off. Shatner’s flight lasted just over 10 minutes, soaring to a height of about 66 miles, four miles beyond one of the limits generally considered to be the edge of space.

During the flight, the crew saw the Earth below and the dark abyss on the other side, experiencing weightlessness for a few minutes. Shatner said he looked out the window, worried about the color and curvature of the Earth below him, even as he endured the discomfort of weightlessness and then the “ominous darkness” of space.

So they went down. Slowed by a parachute, its capsule landed in the desert near Van Horn, Texas, while the blue origin celebrated a successful mission. Immediately after the spaceflight, Shatner thanked Bezos for giving him “the most profound experience I can imagine.”

“I am so thrilled with what just happened. It’s extraordinary,” Shatner said. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope to keep what I feel now. I don’t want to lose him.”

He didn’t lose, he told the The Post on Sunday the 9th. But he processed that moment in the hours, days, and months that followed. He described the experience as “a clarion call” to stop climate change. Shatner said the devastating effects are already starting to show, citing the recent destruction of Florida’s Gulf coast by Hurricane Ian and torrential rains in Pakistan. These seismic forces have the power to extinguish species of animals and plants, sometimes without humans knowing they existed.

“I am aware that with every passing moment, beings that took 5 billion years to arise are becoming extinct,” Shatner said. “We’ll never meet them.”

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Recalling the effort to build the atomic bomb in World War II, he called for a second “Manhattan Project of Scientists,” a group of brains tasked with removing carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. “There is no time for war,” he said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This only contributes to the next extinctions, which will include humans.”

Shatner then mentioned the contrast between his anticipation of the flight versus what happened while free-floating nearly 350,000 feet above Earth a year ago. He described the experience in an excerpt from his book.

“It filled me with dread,” he wrote. “My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.”

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