William Shatner played a space explorer on TV for decades, but now he’s actually going to space for real. On the morning of September 24, 2021, TMZ broke the news that one of television’s most iconic spaceship captains will be headed into orbit on one of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin spaceships.
TMZ reported that Shatner will be on board a Blue Origin ship for a short, civilian launch. The last Blue Origin space-flight took about 11 minutes, only a few of which were actually spent in space. It seems like Shatner’s flight will be similarly short.
TMZ claimed that their sources said the flight would be filmed for a documentary produced by Shatner himself. Though the actor was reportedly in discussions with Discovery, TMZ reported that his team is now negotiating with other outlets.
Shatner Finally Speaks Out
Shatner has been uncharacteristically quiet about the reports that he’s going to space. Typically, when he’s making headlines, Shatner updates his Twitter followers about what’s going on. But he hasn’t said a word about his potential spaceflight on social media.
He finally addressed the reports during an interview on the Australian radio program Jam Nation with Jonesy and Amanda on September 28. Amanda asked Shatner if he could confirm the rumors that he and Bezos were headed into suborbital space.
“The problem is I can’t talk about it because we’re in the middle of something,” Shatner replied. “So, I’ve gotta just like close the conversation. But if I have the opportunity to talk to you again, I will tell you about it. Because it could be something quite extraordinary for me.”
Shatner’s comments seem to suggest that he and Bezos are in negotiations. However, it sounds like the details aren’t ironed out. At least fans now know why he hasn’t said anything about it yet.
Shatner’s Mixed Feelings About Going to Space
Shatner has been talking about going to space for quite a long time. However, his feelings about undertaking such a momentous mission haven’t always been positive.
In 2013, billionaire Richard Branson told The Daily Mail that Shatner had turned down his offer to go to space in one of his Virgin Galactic spaceships. Branson claimed that Shatner told him he was scared to fly!
Shatner told The Daily Mail a different story, though. He said that Branson expected him to pay for the space trip and that he wasn’t willing to do that unless he had a “guarantee” that he’d make it back to Earth. When Branson couldn’t give him that guarantee, Shatner declined.
The Daily Mail reported that Shatner had expressed his reluctance about space travel in the past as well. He indicated that he was very interested in space exploration, but not doing it himself.
However, Shatner’s feelings had clearly changed by May 2020, when the SpaceX Dragon crew was preparing to launch. Shatner tweeted at NASA, saying that he’d be happy to go if any of the crew members couldn’t make the flight.
A few months later, Shatner did a panel with NASA at San Diego ComicCon@Home. During that panel, which can be viewed above, Shatner hinted that he had plans to make a short trip into suborbital space.
“There’s a possibility that I’m going to go up for a brief moment and come back down,” Shatner told the panel.
However, he still expressed some trepidation about spaceflight. Shatner said that seeing the Challenger explosion in the 80s really shook him to the core, leaving him nervous about ever going himself. The NASA staff on the panel assured him that NASA has made significant changes since then and that safety is the organization’s top priority.
Shatner Skeptical of Billionaires in Space
Even as recently as July 2021, Shatner expressed that he had reservations about the billionaire space race. In an interview with NBC News just a day after Bezos’ first launch, Shatner said that he didn’t think space travel was all that safe.
“I know there is an argument to be made about popularizing space travel, and I’ve talked to a lot of travelers to space who are excited to get to Mars. But if any little speck of that mote of dust we were talking about hits your spaceship, it punctures it and then they’ve got to plug it up. If you basically have a flat tire in space, it means you die. It seems to me you’re more likely to die there than on the Hollywood Freeway… People will think it’s like we’re on a trip, on a cruise line. No, man! You’re in zero gravity and it’s hotter than hell and the air is putrid. ‘Help me, I’m dying, but I’m dying slowly!’ What a terrible fate.”
However, he seems to have gotten over those fears. This story is breaking and more information will be added as it is available.
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