William Shatner said Thursday that breaking through the Earth’s “thin” atmosphere reinforced his conviction that people need to take better care of the planet.
“It’s so fragile,” Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk in the original series of “Star Trek,” said exclusively on NBC’s “TODAY.”
“There’s this little tiny blue skin that’s 50 miles wide,” he said. “And we pollute it, and it’s our means of living. And I was struck so profoundly by it.”
“The fragility of this planet — the coming catastrophic event, and we all need to clean this act up now,” he added.
Wednesday’s voyage made Shatner, 90, the oldest person to reach space.
Shatner and three other crew members — Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, and two paying customers, Glen de Vries and Chris Boshuizen — rode Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule to the edge of space. Liftoff occurred at around 10:50 a.m. ET, and the entire flight lasted about 10 minutes.
The New Shepard rocket and capsule are designed for suborbital jaunts, which don’t actually enter into orbit around Earth but rather fly to the edge of space, at an altitude of more than 65 miles, where passengers can experience around four minutes of weightlessness.
Shatner said he was trying to prepare something clever to say when he again reached earth, but “we get up and when I was there, everything I thought might be clever to say went out the window.”
“We had a simulator simulate what they say you’re going to feel, and it doesn’t come anywhere near,” Shatner shared. “You could talk about weightlessness all you want but the feeling of weightlessness … is indescribable.”
“You’re floating, and I don’t want to turn summersaults, I don’t want to throw skittles — I want to look out the window,” he said.
The mission was delayed by nearly an hour as crews worked on the rocket. High winds at the Texas launch site had forced Blue Origin to push the expedition from its originally scheduled time earlier in the week.
Bezos escorted the four passengers to the launch pad and greeted them after their spacecraft touched down again. After Shatner climbed out of the capsule, he hugged Bezos. “What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Bezos through tears. “I am overwhelmed. I had no idea.”
During the flight, Shatner had tweeted a quote from physicist Isaac Newton: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”