Jeff Bezos interrupts emotional William Shatner to spray champagne after rocket landing
The Independent

Last year, William Shatner lived up to his Captain Kirk promise by boldly going where no one has gone before (or at least no one at his age), but it turns out he might have been better off staying at home.

The Star Trek icon, 91, became the oldest person to travel to space after he blasted off in a rocket built by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin space travel company last October, but rather than feel elated by the experience, he has now likened it to a funeral.

In his new memoir ‘Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder’, the sci-fi legend reveals how his journey to the final frontier left him with “among the strongest feelings of grief” he has ever encountered.

He explained that “the contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled [him] with overwhelming sadness” and that, ultimately, “the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us”.

He continued: “Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna… things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread.

“My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.”

The excerpt detailing his epiphany was shared by Variety reporter Marianne Williamson on Sunday, and was met with admiration and empathy by thousands of Twitter users:

It’s not the first time Shatner has spoken about the painful impact of his space flight. Back in August, he told The Sunday Times: “When I went up there and I could see the curvature of the Earth and the vast blackness surrounding it, it really hit home how much we don’t know and how we’re gambling with our planet.

“I couldn’t help but think about the terrible burden that Clive, my two-year-old great-grandchild, is facing when he gets older.”

He said that his daughters tried to persuade him not to go as they thought it was “too dangerous” but that his grandchildren thought it was “so cool”.

The historic trip saw Shatner and three other passengers lifted off in the fully automated, 60ft New Shepard rocket from Van Horn, west Texas. During the flight, the actor and those on board experienced weightlessness as they reached the fringes of space. After a journey lasting about 10 minutes, the capsule fell back to Earth with the aid of a parachute.

At the time, the actor described it as “the most profound experience I can imagine”.

Speaking after the safe landing, he told reporters that he had prepared himself for experiencing weightlessness, but was stunned at the dramatic contrast of the beauty of the blue Earth and the blackness of space.

"You're looking into blackness, into black ugliness," he said. "And you look down, there's the blue down there - and the black up there - and it's just, there is Mother Earth."

"This is life and that's death, and in an instant, you know - whoa - that's death. That's what I saw."

"Is that the way death is?" he then asked.

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