William Shatner has been beamed up. Now, he’s just beaming.
The actor, 90, became the oldest person to fly to space Wednesday when he flew aboard a rocket developed by Blue Origin, the private spaceflight company founded by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and he joined TODAY live on Thursday to describe the experience and why it made him so aware of “the fragility of this planet.”
“I was trying to think of something clever to say and then we get up and when I was there, everything I thought might be clever to say went out the window,” he told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. “All of a sudden the blue is down below and the blackness of space — and space is interesting, the universe lies there — but in that moment, in that window, it was only black and ominous.
“I was overwhelmed with the experience, with the sensation of looking at death and looking at life and what’s become a cliché of how we need to take care of the planet,” he added. “I was struck so profoundly by it.”
The trip aboard the New Shepard rocket had been bumped back one day due to high winds in West Texas, where the flight originated, and then for another hour on Wednesday before going off without a hitch, with the rocket launching at more than 2,000 miles per hour.
“No description can equal this,” the “Star Trek” legend can be heard saying in video from inside the rocket.
Shatner boldly went where only a few people have gone before. He was joined on his flight by Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, as well as two paying customers, Glen de Vries and Chris Boshuizen, who reportedly paid $250,000 apiece to take part in the adventure. The trip lasted about 10 minutes after lifting off around 10:50 a.m. ET.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Bezos through tears after returning to Earth. “I am overwhelmed. I had no idea.”
This is the second time Blue Origin has sent people into space. In July, Wally Funk, 82, one of several pioneering women who trained to become astronauts in the ’60s before their program was canceled, rode the first flight along with Bezos.
Last month, SpaceX, the spaceflight company founded by Elon Musk, sent four private citizens into orbit around Earth on a three-day trip, becoming the first orbital launch with an all-civilian crew.
While many people are cheering on these missions by billionaires, others such as Prince William say the effort to send humans into space takes away from the threat of climate change.
“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said Wednesday on the BBC.
Blue Origin will be back at it with another flight scheduled in a few weeks, while a Japanese fashion mogul is expected to fly to the International Space Station. A Russian actor also recently filmed a movie there.
SpaceX will also carry three private passengers next February for another ride with a price tag of $55 million each. Virgin Galactic will also carry three people for a flight for research.
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