He went on an 11-minute spaceflight last October and had a life-changing experience.
Going to space is everyone’s childhood dream. We all want to see our planet from a bird’s-eye view and experience the dark and exciting things beyond our atmosphere. William Shatner, known for his role as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” recently took a trip to space. However, it was nothing like he expected. Shatner took the trip of a lifetime with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin last October. At the age of 91, he set the record for the oldest person to travel into space, according to Business Insider. Shatner wrote about this experience in his new book “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder.” The actor said that all he experienced while being in space was grief and sadness. In an excerpt from the book published by Variety he wrote, "I love the mystery of the universe. All of that has thrilled me for years…but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold...all I saw was death."
He said that it was "a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing." He added that everything he thought of space was all wrong and he did not expect what followed the launch. He thought he would encounter "the ultimate catharsis" however he felt "the strongest feelings of grief," while being in space.
"The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness," he added. Shatner experienced the overview effect. According to TIME, the effect is described as "the change that occurs when they see the world from above, as a place where borders are invisible, where racial, religious and economic strife are nowhere to be seen."
Shatner wrote about it in his own words, "when someone travels to space and views Earth from orbit, a sense of the planet’s fragility takes hold in an ineffable, instinctive manner." He wrote in the book, "I had a different experience because I discovered that the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our tiny planet even more profound."
"The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness." He added, "My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral."
Shatner has discussed the strong feelings he had throughout the 11-minute spaceflight. Jeff Bezos, who established Blue Origin in 2000, heard an emotional Shatner's responses as the spacecraft touched down in the Texas desert, accordig to Business Insider. He said, "What you have given me is the most profound experience. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. It's extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it."
He also told CNN business that he couldn't stop crying, "It took me hours to understand what it was, why I was weeping. I realized I was in grief. I was grieving for the destruction of the Earth." Onboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket for the journey, Shatner was joined by former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, healthcare entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin CEO Audrey Powers.