William Shatner’s trip to the last frontier last October on a Blue Origin spacecraft looked to be the ideal chance to inspire deep happiness and celebration in a man who had portrayed a space traveler on television for decades.
But Shatner, a veteran environmental activist who was 90 at the time of his trip, claims in a new book that the experience was among the most intense anguish he had ever felt.
The Star Trek actor said that everything he anticipated feeling about traveling to space was inaccurate in an extract from “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder,” which was published by Variety last week.
I believed that entering space would be the most beautiful next step toward realizing the harmony of the cosmos and would be the ultimate catharsis of the connection I had been seeking between all living beings. They should have sent a poet, stunned Jodie Foster’s character in the movie “Contact” as she gazes out into space and the skies. I had a different experience because I realized that beauty isn’t above, but rather below, among us all. My attachment to our little planet became even stronger once I left that behind.
I have never experienced anything quite like that when it comes to grieving. I felt an overpowering sense of grief when I considered how the harsh coldness of space contrasted with the comforting warmth of Earth below.
We are constantly aware of the additional harm we are causing to the planet, including the loss of animal species, flora, and fauna—things that took five billion years to develop and are now gone due to human involvement. It made me feel anxious. It was intended to be a celebration during my voyage to space, but it seemed more like a wake.
That story is consistent with some of the feelings Shatner had upon touching down as the oldest person to ever journey to space in the West Texas desert on October 13. He welcomed Jeff Bezos and told the creator of Amazon and Blue Origin that the 10-minute journey was the most meaningful experience he could think of.
“I’m bursting with emotion at what just occurred. At the moment, Shatner said, “It’s incredible. “I really hope I never get over this. I’m hoping I can keep feeling this way. I’d like not to lose it. It dwarfs both my life and myself in size.
Along with Chris Boshuizen, a venture financier and co-founder of Planet Labs, Glen de Vries, a co-founder of Medidata Solutions and current executive at Dassault Systems, and Audrey Powers, vice president of New Shepard mission and flight operations at Blue Origin, Shatner also flew in space.
He said in his book that he subsequently discovered such sentiments were not unusual.
It is known as the “Overview Effect,” and astronauts like Yuri Gagarin, Michael Collins, Sally Ride, and many more have all experienced it. In essence, when a person goes to space and observes Earth from orbit, an instinctual awareness of the planet’s fragility develops.
Shatner elaborated on his sorrow for the earth in an interview with The Washington Post, explaining how, at the age of 91, he saw the experience as “a clarion call” to halt climate change.
According to Shatner’s statement to The Post, “I am aware that creatures that took 5 billion years to evolve are becoming extinct every instant that passes.” “We’ll never understand them,”