William Shatner is responding to Prince William‘s criticism of space travel. ET’s Nischelle Turner spoke with the 90-year-old actor on Thursday, one day after he travelled to space, and Shatner was quick to defend his journey, and space travel as a whole.
“He’s a lovely Englishman. He’s going to be king of England one day,” Shatner told ET of the Duke of Cambridge. “He’s a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he’s got the wrong idea.”
Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk on “Star Trek”, went to space with Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos, as one of four passengers on board the New Shepard NS-18 ship.
Though the duke didn’t mention Bezos by name, he told the BBC, “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.”
“It really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future,” the royal continued, noting that he has “absolutely no interest” in going to space, largely because there’s a “fundamental question” over the carbon cost of space flights.
For Shatner, though, the journey held a different meaning, one that thought ahead to protecting the Earth, not finding an alternate place for its people to inhabit.
“The idea here is not to go, ‘Yeah, look at me. I’m in space.’ The landing that consumed all that… energy and people to take a look and go, ‘Oh, look at that.’ No,” Shatner said. “I would tell the prince, and I hope the prince gets the message, this is a baby step into the idea of getting industry up there, so that all those polluting industries, especially, for example, the industries that make electricity… off of Earth.”
“We’ve got all the technology, the rockets, to send the things up there… You can build a base 250, 280 miles above the Earth and send that power down here, and they catch it, and they then use it, and it’s there,” he continued. “All it needs is… somebody as rich as Jeff Bezos [to say], ‘Let’s go up there.'”
At the end of the day, Shatner said, “The prince is missing the point. The point is these are the baby steps to show people [that] it’s very practical. You can send somebody like me up into space.”
As for the duke’s argument that there are issues that need to be addressed on Earth, Shatner said he “of course” agrees.
“So fix some of the stuff down here,” Shatner said. “… But we can curl your hair and put lotion on your face at the same time.”
The space journey is one Shatner is glad he took, calling the experience “indescribable,” and noting that there are simply “no words in the English language to relate.”
“You hear people say religious experience, I don’t know about religious experience, but you can have an overwhelming experience,” Shatner told ET, before comparing the flight to holding one’s child for the first time.
“You hold the baby and it’s magical. It’s so overwhelming. How am I going to protect this child?” he said. “… You’re flooded with the responsibility and need to take care of [the child] and how you’re going to do it. That’s an overwhelming experience, and I had that experience.”
“Looking at what I thought was life and death, what I thought was my children and my children’s children,” Shatner continued. “The need to stop that blackness from overwhelming our precious planet and how unknowing the people who are not as consumed as I am about the necessity of protecting the earth.”
While Shatner said that he “can’t stand” being reminded that he’s now the oldest person who’s travelled to space, he told ET that the journey did make him think about his mortality.
“It reminded me of the death facing me because of my age… but also how to protect you in the years to come, and my children, and my children’s children,” he said. “That’s what’s critical.”
As for what comes next for the actor, he’s hosting “The UnXplained” on The History Channel, and is “torn” over if he wants to take it easy or seek out his next adventure.
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