After Becoming the Oldest Man To Visit Space, William Shatner Makes an Emotional Case for Private Space Tourism
Today, at age 90, actor William Shatner became the oldest person to travel into space aboard private space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule. His post-launch remarks about the transformative experience of private space tourism might make him one of the most compelling advocates for private space tourism.
“To see the blue cover whip by and now you’re staring to into blackness,” said a tearful Shatner—famous for playing Capt. James T. Kirk in Star Trek—to Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos moments after planting his feet on Terra Firma in the West Texas desert. “There’s the blue down there and the black up there. There is mother and Earth and comfort and there is, is there death? I don’t know. Is that what death is? It was so moving.”
The short 10-minute flight took Shatner and three fellow crew members 66 miles above the planet’s surface, or just about the “Kármán line” that marks the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Shatner’s past portrayal of the space-faring Kirk obviously made his travel into space today a surreal conversion of fantasy into reality. The launch also neatly illustrates the progress that’s been made in space technology since he was only pretending to explore the stars.
When Star Trek first aired in the late 1960s, space travel was the exclusive domain of highly trained professional astronauts traveling aboard rockets built and funded by the massive government space programs of two superpowers primarily interested in supplementing their nuclear arms race with a
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