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  • In his new book, William Shatner writes that going to space “felt like a funeral.”
  • The “Star Trek” actor went to space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin last October, when he was 90.
  • “All I saw was death,” he said. “It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered.”

Going to space has proven to be a dark experience for William Shatner, both literally and figuratively.

In his new book, “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder,” the actor, known for portraying Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” says he experienced profound sadness on his trip to space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin last October.

“I love the mystery of the universe,” he wrote, according to a book excerpt published by Variety. “All of that has thrilled me for years…but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold…all I saw was death.”

The now 91-year-old, who made history as the oldest person to travel into space during the flight, described seeing a “cold, dark, black emptiness” unlike anything on Earth.

“My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral,” he wrote. “It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness.”

Shatner is describing an experience known as the overview effect, which is a cognitive shift in how one thinks about Earth and life that many astronauts report feeling during spaceflight.

“Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong,” he wrote. “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.”

Shatner has previously spoken about the intense emotions he felt on the spaceflight. After landing on solid ground again, he told Bezos, “What you have given me is the most profound experience…I hope I never recover from this.”

Earlier this year, Shatner told CNN that he couldn’t stop crying after the journey because he was “grieving for the destruction of the Earth.”

Shatner was joined by former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, healthcare entrepreneur Glen de Vries, and Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket for the spaceflight. They experienced weightlessness and saw the curvature of Earth on the 11-minute trip. 



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