Depending on how old you are, you might know a lot or a little about legendary actor William Shatner.
But you probably remember when the 91-year-old Star Trek great became the oldest person to go into outer space last year, on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space shuttle.
Obviously, when it comes to going to space, there’s one question that immediately comes to mind: What’s it like?
Well, Shatner talks about his trip to the final frontier in his new memoir, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder — and it sounds like the experience was pretty intense in a not-so-great way.
In the book (via Variety), William recalls his pre-flight anxiety after being shown a “thick cement room” that he and the other passengers were instructed to “rush” into “if the rocket explodes.”
Despite an “anomaly” in the engine shortly before takeoff, the flight went off without a hitch — and when the space shuttle entered orbit, William wanted to get an idea of what space looked like.
“We got out of our harnesses and began to float around,” he recalled. “The other folks went straight into somersaults and enjoying all the effects of weightlessness. I wanted no part in that. I wanted, needed to get to the window as quickly as possible to see what was out there.”
After looking toward Earth, William turned to the other window to gaze into the massive expanse of space…and in his words, “all I saw was death.”
“I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness,” he wrote. “It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing.”
“I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds, and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.”
“Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.”
William wrote that he expected going into space to provide “the ultimate catharsis of that connection I had been looking for between all living things — that being up there would be the next beautiful step to understanding the harmony of the universe.”
“I had a different experience, because I discovered that the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our tiny planet even more profound.”
“It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered.”
Sounds intense! I think I’ll pass — but William’s entire account of going to space is worth reading. Check it out here.