William Shatner on Why Going to Space ‘Felt Like a Funeral’

William Shatner made history aboard a 2021 Blue Origin flight. In a new book, the actor and pop culture personality speaks candidly about the moment.

William Shatner is seen in a space suit


William Shatner is seen in a space suit

William Shatner, who last year made much-discussed history as the oldest person to fly to the edge of space, speaks candidly about the uniquely moving moment in his latest book.

Per an excerpt published last week by Variety, Shatner compared having the opportunity to view Earth from above to “a funeral” and detailed the “overwhelming sadness” he felt as he pondered the ongoing damage humans are leveling against the planet.

“It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered,” Shatner said in Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, which was released this month via Simon & Schuster. “The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. 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.”

This reality, Shatner added, filled him “with dread” and contributed to that aforementioned funeral comparison.

“My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral,” the revered Star Trek actor and prolific pop culture personality said.

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Shatner’s comments shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the oft-existential assessment of life as we know it from those who’ve traveled beyond the (increasingly apparent) confines of our planet. In fact, such talk has surrounded the perspective-shifting experience since the inception of space travel. The impact felt by astronauts in the past, for example, remains a point of great fascination among space enthusiasts. (This facet of space-minded progress has been made even more clear in recent years due to the wave of developments on the UAP front).

Last October, Shatner embarked on his history-making mission as a crew member aboard a vessel from Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Ahead of the mission, Shatner called the opportunity to join his fellow crew members in the skies as a “miracle.” Notably, he was 90 years old at the time of the flight.

“I’ve heard about space for a long time now,” Shatner said prior to launch. “I’m taking the opportunity to see it for myself.”

Tom Hanks, meanwhile, quite hilariously revealed why he turned down a Blue Origin spot of his own last November. Revisit Hanks’ explanation here

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