Come for weightlessness. Stay for the deep and overwhelming realization of the fragility of life on our planet.
After a brief trip to space Wednesday morning aboard Blue Origin’s latest launch, a deeply moved William Shatner struggled to put into words the meaning of his trip. At 90, Shatner has become the oldest person in space.
What struck him the most, he told Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wasn’t the weightlessness, or even seeing the Earth itself as a blue orb. it was the stark contrast between life and death, bounded by an incredibly thin strip of atmosphere. .
Shatner compared the atmosphere to a “blue comforter” wrapped around the planet. Throwing it through, it’s suddenly ripped off, “and you look in the dark,” he remembers, “and you look down and there’s blue over there, and black up there, and that ‘is right … it is right .. .. there is mother and Earth and comfort, and there … is there death? “
“Is this death? Is this how death is? he thinks. “WHAP Here we go. Jesus.”
The actor who explored the Last Frontier as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek” was repeatedly overcome with emotion as he treated the experience aloud. Bezos stood by and offered an occasional hug after initially cutting Shatner spray champagne all over.
“I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary, ”said Shatner. “I hope I never get over it. I hope I can maintain what I feel now.
“It has to do with the enormity and the swiftness and the suddenness of life and death and the… oh, my God,” he continued, burying his face in his hands.
“The moment you see the vulnerability of everything. It is so small. This air that keeps us alive is thinner than your skin. It’s a shard, it’s infinitely small when you think of it in terms of the universe.