TEXAS — Boldly going where precious few of his countrymen have gone before, William Shatner became just the eleventh Canadian to travel into space today.
Famous for his iconic portrayal of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, the Montreal-born actor and three other passengers blasted off aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket, racing upward more than 100 km to reach the weightlessness of space.
Their capsule returned safely by parachute to the desert floor about 10 minutes later. Ninety-year-old Shatner, who also set a record as the oldest astronaut to date, gushed with emotion after emerging from the craft, its door opened by Bezos himself.
“It was so moving to me,” said a tearful Shatner, after comparing entry into space to whipping off a thin blue blanket that surrounds Mother Earth. “This experience is something unbelievable.”
“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” he gratefully told the Amazon founder. “I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary … I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to to lose it.”
It’s been reported that Shatner carried with him on the flight a paper tricorder made by Trekkie Bezos when he was nine years old. The California-based celebrity flew for free as a guest of the billionaire online retail tycoon.
The last newly minted Canadian astronaut to reach space — the tenth — was David Saint-Jacques, who spent 204 days aboard the International Space Station between 2018 and 2019.
Shatner’s Blue Origin excursion also made him the second Canadian space tourist after Guy Laliberté. The Cirque du Soleil founder became the ninth Canadian astronaut when he paid a reported $35-million to visit the ISS aboard a Russian rocket in 2009.