William Shatner has boldly gone where no 90 year old has gone before: space.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened … It’s extraordinary. I hope I never recover, that I can maintain what I feel now.”
Going up: The flight lifted off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site at 10:49 a.m. ET and reached a peak altitude of 347,160 feet (the Kármán line, widely considered the border of space, is about 330,000 feet above sea level).
When the capsule landed just over 10 minutes later, Bezos was the one to open its hatch and greet the crew: “Hello, astronauts. Welcome to Earth!”
The overview effect: Shatner’s emotional response to the Blue Origin spaceflight wasn’t unique — many astronauts have reported feeling a positive shift in their perspective of Earth and life on it after seeing the planet from space.
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it,” Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell said.
This phenomenon has been dubbed the “overview effect,” and until recently, it was largely out of reach for people who weren’t professional astronauts (though researchers have been attempting to recreate it in VR).
Now that companies like Blue Origin are making good on decades of space tourism research, the view is becoming more accessible — and while it might just be celebrities and billionaires who can afford tickets to space today, that could change in the not-so-distant future.
“Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see this,” Shatner told Bezos. “Unbelievable.”
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