William Shatner's "overwhelming sadness" of space travel


William Shatner, the Canadian actor best known for playing the character of James T. Kirk, the captain of the spaceship USS Enterprise in the science fiction TV series Star Trek, last October became the oldest person to reach space thanks to the space company Blue Origin. He recounted his impressions of his journey in his autobiography of him, published in recent weeks in the United States: the American magazine Variety he proposed an excerpt from it, in which Shatner dwells above all on the surprising emotions experienced in the short journey into Space. The actor says he was overwhelmed by an “overwhelming sadness”.

When I looked in the opposite direction, towards Space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to admire, all I saw was death (…). It was one of the strongest feelings of pain I’ve ever experienced. The contrast between the cruel coldness of Space and the warm eagerness of the Earth below filled me with an overwhelming sadness.

Shatner is 90 years old and has reached Space as a guest on a trip as part of the promotion activities of Blue Origin, a company owned by former Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, for the so-called “space tourism”. However, the company does not offer an orbital flight, that is, the possibility of making at least one revolution around the Earth. Instead, it performs suborbital flights: a sort of large parabola from the moment of launch to that of reentry.

In the autobiography Boldly Go: Reflections of a Life of Awe and Wonderwritten with the writer and director Joshua Brandon, tells how he was little interested in the sensations of travel, but above all wanted to observe Space: «I love the mysteries of the universe, they have fascinated me for years».

However, the actor who played Captain Kirk saw a “cold, dark, black void, different from the darkness you may experience on Earth. He was deep, enveloping, he encompassed everything ».

In Shatner’s story, on the other hand, the vision of the Earth is completely contrasted, with its aspect of “warm concern”. Seeing it from afar makes the bond even deeper – says the actor – and causes a strong pain: «My journey into Space was supposed to be a party; instead it gave the feeling of a funeral ».

Shatner then explains that this feeling of attachment to the Earth and repulsion for Space is quite common among astronauts, and is called the “Overview Effect”, witnessed among others by the first human being to travel. in Space, the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, and by Michael Collins, who was part of the Apollo 11 mission, while not landing on the moon.

– Read also: The first real time in space for William Shatner


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