Half a century ago, a television show told the youth that space travel would be the best thing ever. Some of them were even inspired to work towards that goal. Science fiction met reality on Wednesday, as one of those fans, now one of the richest people in the world, gave the show’s lead actor a brief ride into the ether.
The mission went according to plan. The result after that appeared unpublished, and all the better for it.
William Shatner, on the original “Star Trek” as Captain James T. Kirk as ever famous, returned to Earth, apparently inspired by experience beyond measure. His trip aboard Jeff Bezos’ Rocket might have been conceived as a publicity stunt, but brushing off the edge of the sky left the actor full of surprises:
It was incredible… Proceed to see the blue cover. And now you are staring at the blackness. That’s it. This blue cover, this sheet, this blanket, this blue comforter that is all around us. We say, ‘Oh that blue sky.’ And then all of a sudden you shoot through it and all of a sudden, as you whip the sheets while you sleep, you’re looking at the blackness.
Mr. Shatner was talking to Mr. Bezos shortly after exiting the capsule with three other passengers. Others congratulated their family and friends. Champagne Cork Pop. There was a lot of laughter, a sigh of relief. But Mr. Shatner, a Hale 90 standing in the dust of West Texas, spoke of space as the final frontier:
You look down, there’s blue down there, and there’s black. There is mother and earth and rest and there is … what is death? I do not know. was that death? Is death like this? Whoop and it’s gone. Jesus. It was shaking a lot for me.
Mr. Bezos listened as a statue still. He may have been giving Mr. Shatner some space, but it was the exact opposite of his appearance when he flew a spaceship similar to Mr. Shatner after his brief spaceflight in July. Then, he went beyond a stage to denounce critics of the giant company he founded, as he thanked Amazon employees and customers for making it possible to finance his private space venture.
Or maybe Mr Bezos was acting naturally. His role model has always been the calm, obsessive Mr. Spock rather than the passionate, impulsive Captain Kirk. Amazon, which rewards efficiency above all, was conceived and operates on this notion.
When he played as a boy in “Star Trek”, Mr. Bezos has said, he sometimes played the role of the ship’s computer. Amazon’s voice-activated speaker Alexa was designed to be the home version of a “Star Trek” computer that always had an answer to every question.