Shatner’s emotional response to space travel is what we needed to hear

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Shatner's emotional response to space travel is what we needed to hear

Even Neil Armstrong stepping onto the surface of the moon remained cool.

If I’d just landed on the moon, it would have been “Holy BLEEP we’re on the FRICKIN moon!” Which is why I could never be an astronaut.

Pilots and astronauts are all business. They have to be. But not William Shatner:

Astronauts have to be unflappable, like all pilots. Every time I fly, the pilot comes on and says, “Ah we may have a little turbulence over Montana, we’ll keep you posted” and he says it in that no-big-deal voice that tells you, “yup, no problem, this guy’s got it, plane will probably hold together just fine.”

Story Highlights

  • I was 10 when Alan Shepard took that first flight, and I was fascinated by all the technology, and with how calm the astronauts were. John Glenn did loosen up a bit during his first orbit when he blurted out “Man, the view is tremendous,” but that’s about as emotional as it got.

  • “One small step for a man…”

“Is there death, is that the way death is?” he posited after joining a Blue Origin crew and rocketing into space this week. “It was so moving.”

He clearly enjoyed the view, but he also had an epiphany. He was talking about how quickly the rocket left the sky behind and took him into the blackness of the final frontier.

“So moving to me,” he described. “Unbelievable.” I know that no one chews the scenery like Shatner, and he got a free ticket so he does have an incentive to help Bezos sell seats, but I think he was sincere.

I noticed a little media mockery, I assume from people who’ve been to space thousands of times. But not me. I’ve never been fired off in a rocket ship – to say nothing of doing it at age 90. I thought his reaction is exactly what we need to hear, especially the part about the blackness and how thin that blue layer is.

The message of space travel isn’t how cool it is to be weightless — it’s that we are tiny creatures on this planetary oblate spheroid shielded from the blackness by nothing but a thin layer of invisible atmospheric paint, into which we keep dumping stuff that shouldn’t be there. It got me thinking that it’s a trip that every billionaire who thinks he’s a master of the universe needs to take as soon as possible.

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