William Shatner Changes Tune on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Space Flight: ‘Felt Like a Funeral’

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

William Shatner is sharing a new perspective on his trip to space, and it’s far more depressing than we could have imagined.

The former Star Trek actor shot into the great beyond aboard a Blue Origin rocket on October 13, 2021. After, he shared that he was “moved to tears” by what he saw. But he wasn’t sure how to eloquently and effectively put his thoughts or emotions into words.

However, certain comments made people believe he had an overwhelmingly positive experience. But in an excerpt from his new book Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, obtained by Variety, he sheds a different light on his feelings.

“My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration,” he admited. “Instead, it felt like a funeral.”

When the now 91-year-old William Shatner returned to Earth, he shared that his 15-minute trip to the cosmos was “profound” and “extraordinary.” But those words aren’t necessarily positive, just as he further explained in his writing.

“I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness, he shared. “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.”

William Shatner Suffered From ‘Overview Effect’

Shatner originally thought the adventure would be cathartic, and it would give him a better connection to all living things, a connection he has been searching for for years. And he admitted that Hollywood tricked him into believing that outer space held a sort of healing power.

But it wasn’t until he was safely back on Earth that he felt anything close to joy.

“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,” he continued. “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.” 

William Shatner explained what he felt was called “Overview Effect,” a term invented by author Frank White. It’s a common feeling space travelers have that is evoked when they look down on Earth and instantly recognize its “fragility.”

While he didn’t enjoy that feeling, he does believe that if more people experienced it, it would lead to better societies. For him, it “returned a feeling of hope” to his heart. And he wants others to share in that.

“It can change the way we look at the planet but also other things like countries, ethnicities, religions; it can prompt an instant reevaluation of our shared harmony and a shift in focus to all the wonderful things we have in common instead of what makes us different,” Shatner added.

You can read more about William Shatner’s experience in Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder,” which is available in bookstores now.