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William Shatner recounts voyage to space: ‘What I saw was blackness and death’

November 10, 2021
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This undated photo made available by Blue Origin in October 2021 shows, from left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Their launch scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 was Blue Origin’s second passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Jeff Bezos used for his own trip three months earlier. This undated photo made available by Blue Origin in October 2021 shows, from left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Their launch scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 was Blue Origin’s second passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Jeff Bezos used for his own trip three months earlier. (Blue Origin via AP)

It’s been a remarkable 90th year for legendary actor, producer, recording artist and space voyager William Shatner.

During an interview that aired on BIG 104 FM, Shatner shared his personal account of his October 13 voyage to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s second sub-orbital human spaceflight. He said the 11-minute journey changed him and he was eager to explain how.

The “Star Trek” legend and star of “Boston Legal,” “T.J. Hooker” and “Rescue 911” is also the executive producer and host of the History Channel’s “The UnXplained,” a show that examines some of history’s most bewildering unanswered mysteries. New episodes of the show’s third season air Fridays at 9:00 p.m.

This week’s (November 12) episode is titled “Satanic Encounters,” according to Shatner.

“Is evil a reality? It’s those kinds of mysteries that make you want to watch “The UnXplained,” Shatner said in his famous bold baritone that is as strong as ever.

That voice, and the personal stories it shares, is the calling card for Shatner’s new album, “Bill,” an impressive semi-autobiographical spoken word collection featuring musical accompaniment from Joe Walsh, Joe Jonas, Dave Koz, Robert Randolph, Brad Paisley, and others.

When I told Shatner during my interview with him that I had reviewed “Bill” for The Maine Edge, and singled out the track “Black Horse,” as the most moving on the record for me, he was so delighted, he offered up a scoop about his current recording project.

“You’re going to make me cry man,” Shatner said when I brought up the piece on “Bill” where he shared a lesson taught to him by one of his beloved stallions.

“I’m so glad you said that,” he continued. “Let me tell you, and you’re the first one, we’re working on this right now.”

Shatner explained that he met with his “Bill” collaborators to discuss a new single focusing on space.

“I’m working with Dan Miller (of the band They Might Be Giants) and Rob ‘The Poet’ Sharenow on a core number, like ‘Black Horse,’ but about space,” he said. We were working on it last night. I want all kinds of musical changes in there, I want rap in there, I want it to be a similar monumental piece about space. I thought I knew what it was going to be like, and in fact we’d started working on it the day before I left for Texas to go up to space.”

Shatner explained that after his space flight, and after collecting himself to the point where he could make a phone call, he reached out to Miller and Sharenow and told them to scrap what they’d started.

“I said to them ‘You know everything we talked about on Sunday? Forget it, it’s nothing like what we imagined.’ Then he proceeded to recount his journey and how it affected him.

William Shatner: What it was for me was poking through the thin film of air around the Earth, this refracted light that looks blue. The skin around the Earth is about 50 miles in depth. At 2,500 miles per hour, by the count of three, you’re through it. So I’m looking back and I’m seeing the weight of the spaceship like a hole in the air. All of a sudden, we’re out of the blue with the suddenness of a finger-snap. I look to my right and I’m looking at impenetrable blackness.

I’ve studied space as much as I can. I’m Captain Kirk, I’m supposed to know about space. The whole unexplained mystery of space is very appealing. All the stardust and the birth of stars, the death of stars, galaxies, billions of years away, it’s romantic. Not there. What I saw was blackness and death and the deep coldness of space where everything is frozen and nothing works. Then I looked back and saw the beginning of the curvature of the Earth.

I’ve driven across the country many times, from Bangor to San Diego, from Seattle to Miami, I’ve done it. When I was a kid, I hitchhiked across the United States. It seems endless. It’s not. It’s so limited. This little tiny planet in that blackness is so delicate, you can see how easily it could be broken. You know about the other planets that are dry, arid and filled with nothing. I saw this lush, beautiful, living planet filled with its complexity of life. What we forget is the beauty that has evolved on Earth. God, love is beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, a tree, a dog, a snail, everything about Earth has evolved into such beauty, but it is all so threatened right now. The Earth itself will survive, but we humans as witnesses to this beauty are in mortal danger. We have to do something about it now, not 40 or 50 years from now. We can’t kick it down the road, we don’t have time. They’re about to foreclose on us. That’s what I came back with and that’s why I wept uncontrollably. I couldn’t figure out what was the matter with me. What I was feeling is what I just explained to you. I still feel it and I hope I could convey that to your whole audience.

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 November 2021 08:19

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