During his maiden voyage to space, "Star Trek" icon William Shatner had an awe-inspiring experience — but it wasn't necessarily positive.
"So, I went to space," reads a Variety-published excerpt from Shatner's new book, "Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder."
After describing the exhilarating launch procedure and beginning of his zero-gravity excursion, Shatner wrote that when he turned around to look into the void of space, he was shocked by the emptiness he found.
"When I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold," Shatner wrote. "All I saw was death."
In spite of his conceptual love of space — after all, he played Captain Kirk on "Star Trek" during the beginning of the space race — and the mystery it presented, what Shatner was forced to contend with in the real thing was far from what he expected.
"I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness," he wrote. "It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing."
After looking back "toward the light of home," Shatner described an intense homesickness for the planet he had just left.
"I turned back toward the light of home," the "TJ Hooker" star wrote. "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."
"Everything I had thought was wrong," he concluded. "Everything I had expected to see was wrong."
Many space travelers have described an experience termed the "Overview Effect," or a sense of euphoria and interconnectedness stemming from viewing Earth from above. Shatner alluded to the phenomenon, but even his takeaway there sounds unusually dark.
"When someone travels to space and views Earth from orbit," he wrote, "a sense of the planet’s fragility takes hold in an ineffable, instinctive manner."
"The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness," Shatner added. "My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral."
While this is the most detailed description of Shatner's trip to space, it was not the first time the "Star Trek" star had spoken publicly about it.
Shortly after landing from his spaceflight, which took place almost exactly a year ago, Shatner thanked Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos profusely for the trip.
"What you have given me is the most profound experience," he told Bezos through tears. "I hope I never recover from this."
If his memoir is any indicator, Shatner has seemingly kept that hope alive.
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