William Shatner Reflects on Brief Trip to Space

The experience was equal parts incredible and terrifying.

The experience was equal parts incredible and terrifying.

In 2021, actor William Shatner joined the crew of the Blue Origin civilian vessel for a brief trip to the boundaries of space. Shatner was excited for the opportunity, having built most of his career as the spacefaring Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek. However, while the voyage to the final frontier was incredible, the sight of the infinite expanse brought about something else in Shatner: a feeling of profound sadness.

“I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her,” Shatner wrote in his new book, “Boldly Go.”

“Everything I had thought was wrong,” Shatner wrote. “Everything I had expected to see was wrong.”

The relative smallness of the Earth in the midst of a vast, empty void made Shatner keenly aware of just how fragile our planet actually is. “When I stepped out of the spacecraft, I started crying. I didn’t know why,” Shatner explained in an interview with CNN. “It took me hours to understand why I was weeping. I realized I was in grief for the Earth.”

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