Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin charges top dollar for space travel, but some customers may experience “overwhelming sadness” during the trip. That’s how William Shatner describes what he felt during his trip out of Earth’s atmosphere last year, which he made thanks to an invitation from the founder of Amazon.
The star trek alum describes the experience in his new book Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonderincluding an extract Variety released this week.
Shatner, resembling Captain James T. Kirk, writes, “I love the mystery of the universe…Stars explode years ago, their light reaching us years later; black holes absorb energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas that were thought to be entirely devoid of matter…all of this thrilled me for years.
But he was caught off guard, it seems, by his own reaction to the “vicious coldness of space” surrounding the “nurturing, nurturing life” of the planet.
“When I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold…all I saw was death,” he wrote. . “I saw a cold, dark, black void. It was unlike any darkness you could see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, encompassing everything.
He also felt sadness, he wrote, because of the damage done to the planet:
“Every day we are faced with the knowledge of a new destruction of the Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, flora and fauna… things that have taken five billion years to evolve. , and suddenly we’ll never see them again because of humanity’s interference. It filled me with dread. My space trip was supposed to be a party; instead, it felt like a funeral .
The private company Blue Origin, founded in 2000 and funded by Bezos, has launched dozens of paying customers to the far reaches of space. Its New Shepard rocket-capsule system sends passengers 100 km above the planet, where they experience microgravity before the capsule returns to land under parachutes.
The amount customers pay varies widely, with some celebrities, including Shatner and former NFL star Michael Strahan, enjoying free flights while others spend well over $20 million.
Bezos himself was among the first passengers in 2021, when he joined others on the first crewed launch.
The journey is not without risk. Last month, a New Shepard booster engine ignited during the ascent, causing a rocket to crash in the Texas desert. The capsule, which in this case had no crew on board, successfully lifted away from the rocket and parachuted safely to land.
Shatner, 90 at the time of his trip, was acutely aware of the risks. He writes:
“The ground crew never ceased to reassure us throughout the journey. ‘Everything will be alright. Do not worry about anything. Everything is fine. Sure, easy for them to say, I thought. They can stay here in the field…When the day finally came, I couldn’t get the Hindenburg out of my head. Not enough to cancel, of course – I consider myself a professional and was booked. The show had to go on. »
Sign up for the Makeshift Features mailing list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews and surveys.