I Have Had An Experience

October 13, 2021

Immediately after landing on Earth, actor William Shatner recounts his experience seeing our planet from space for the first time during his trip on Blue Origin's NS-18 suborbital flight.

In the Moment




Weightlessness! Oh, Jesus!

00:04de Vries

Kármán line!


Holy…! No description can equal this. Weightlessness!


This is nuts!


Oh my god!

00:21de Vries

This is…!


Oh wow! Oh, I’m tellin’ you…


Holy hell!


Oh my goodness me. Oh wow. I can’t believe this!



In a way, it’s indescribable. In a way, it’s indescribable.


That’s what I thought. You have to work on it. It’s so hard to describe.


You have to work on it, because not only is it different than what you thought, it happens so quickly. You know what my—the impression I have that I never expected to have is: you’re shooting up, and it’s blue sky.


I want to hear this. Here. You want a little of this?


I can’t tell you what you have done. Everybody in the world needs to do this. Everybody in the world needs to see the… it was unbelievable! Unbelievable! I mean, you know the little things, weightlessness, but to see the blue color go whip by you, and now you’re staring into blackness. That’s the thing! The covering of blue, this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us. We think: oh, that’s blue the sky! And then suddenly you shoot through it all of the sudden as if you whip off the sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness. Into black ugliness. And you look down and there’s the blue down there, and the black up there and it’s… it’s just… there is Mother Earth and comfort, and there is… is there death? I don’t know! Is that death? Is that the way death is? Whoop! And it’s gone. Jesus!


It was so moving to me. This experience, it’s something unbelievable. You see it—yeah, you know, weightlessness my stomach went up and I thought, “God, this is so weird.” But not as weird as the covering of blue. This is what I never expected. Oh, it’s one thing to say, “Oh, the sky and the thing and the gradual…” It’s all true. But what isn’t true, what is unknown until you do it is this pillow. There’s this soft blue. Look at the the beauty of that color! And it’s so thin! And you’re through it in an instant. It’s… what? How thick is the it? Do we know? Is it a mile?!”


I mean, the atmosphere? Depends how you measure, because it thins out. But maybe fifty miles.


But you’re going 2,000 miles an hour. So you’re through 50 miles at whatever the mathematics says. You know, like a beat and a beat, and suddenly you’re through the blue! And you’re into black! And you’re into—you know it’s raah, it’s mysterious, and galaxies and things. But what you see is black. And what you see down there is light. And that’s the difference. And not to have this? You have done something—I mean, whatever those other guys are doing… what isn’t… they don’t… I don’t know about them. What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. It’s odd. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I just… it’s extraordinary. Extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me, and life. And it hasn’t got anything to do with the little green planet, the blue orb. It has to do with the enormity, and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death, and then oh my God! It’s something!


It’s so beautiful.


Beautiful, yes. Beautiful in its way, but—


No, I mean your words.


Oh, my words.


That’s just amazing.


I don’t know. I can’t even begin to express what I—what I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible the jeopardy, the moment you see how vul—the vulnerability of everything. It’s so small! This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin! It’s a sliver! It’s immeasurably small when you think in terms of the universe! It’s negligible, this air! Mars doesn’t have it! Nothing. I mean, this… and when you think about when carbon dioxide changed to oxygen and—what is it? Twenty percent of that level that sustains our life—it’s so thin! To dirty it, I mean, that’s another whole subject.


And you shoot through—what you were saying about shooting through it so fast.


So quickly! Fifty miles of—


And then you’re just in blackness!


And you’re in death! The moment you—


This is life—


This is life, and that’s death! And in an instant you go: “Whoa! That’s death!” That’s what I saw.


That’s amazing. That’s amazing. And… wow.


I am overwhelmed. I had no idea! You know, we were talking earlier before going: “Well, you know, it’s going to be different. Yeah” And whatever that phrase you have, that you have a different view of things, that doesn’t begin to explain, to describe, what for me—well, I mean, everybody’s gonna…. But—and this is now the commercial—it would be so important for everybody to have that experience through one means or another. I mean, maybe you can put it on 3D and wear the goggles, and have that experience. I mean, that certainly is a technical possibility.


But what you need also: we’re lying there, and I’m thinking: one delay after another delay. We’re lying there. “How do I feel?” And I’m thinking, “You know, I’m a little jittery here.” And they moved the pins. Oh, there’s something in the engine. “We have an anomaly in the engine.” “They found an anomaly in the engine?” “We’re going to hold a little longer” “Oh, you’re going to hold a little longer?” And I feel this, you know, the stomach, the biome inside, and I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m thinking I’m a little nervous here.” Another delay—I’m a little more nervous. And then the thing starts.


By the way, the simulation is—they have to be… it’s only a simulation. Everything else is much more powerful. It doesn’t capture the—and besides the jeopardy, BANG! This thing hits. You know, that wasn’t anything like the simulation! The gee-forces, and the stomach. And I’m wondering: what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be able to survive the gee-forces? You feel it? Am I going to survive it? And then I think, “Good lord, you know, just getting up the bloody gantry was enough!” Oh my god! What an experience. Whew! Nothing. Nothing!


It looks like you had a moment of camaraderie with your crew mates up there.


Oh, we all hugged each other. You know, you share—it’s like being in battle together, really. And there is this bonding of being in battle. But you’re also embattled inside yourself. Oh my goodness! I have had an experience.

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