Shatner and three fellow passengers found themselves hurtled to an altitude of over 66 miles above the West Texas desert in a fully automated capsule, before safely parachuting back to Earth. The total flight lasted just over 10 fleeting minutes.
When he joined Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Vice President of New Shepard Mission and Flight Operations Audrey Powers, as well as Dr. Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries, as they blasted off on the aerospace company’s latest suborbital spaceflight yesterday, Shatner became the oldest person to ever travel into space.
One particular article, titled “William Shatner Talks Difference Between Space Simulators and Reality, the Physical Toll Flight Took at Age 90”, by Tyler McCarthy and appearing on www.FoxNews.com, struck me as apropos. It was here that the acclaimed actor described being struck by how different the real experience of going into space was from the simulations he ran with Blue Origin.
It seems that, as soon as he touched down in Texas, the former Star Trek lead was quick to explain how the simulations for the flight didn’t necessarily prepare him for the immensely moving and physically taxing experience that was to follow. In short, the reality of space flight was apparently far beyond anything he had imagined.
According to Shatner…
“We had a simulator, they simulate what they say you're going to feel and it doesn’t come anywhere near it. [They say] ‘Here you’re going to be in weightlessness and you've got to grab a hold of something, don’t push too hard with your hands, just use your fingertips because you’ll bounce off the ceiling…’ You can talk about weightlessness all you want but the feeling of weightlessness; the actual feeling of weightlessness is indescribable!”
He continued, noting that it was one of the moments he felt his age compared to the other three younger people he was on the flight with...
“First of all, your body doesn't have any pressure, so suddenly your body is expanding. Secondly, you’re floating and I don’t want to turn somersaults, I don’t want to throw Skittles, I want to look out the window!”
Above all, Shatner explained that he was humbled by the entire experience. He concluded by referencing some of the thoughts he shared when he initially touched back down the day before, summarizing the entire experience as “indescribable”.
Granted, I never was a full-fledged “Trekkie”, having never dressed up in costume and attended conventions, etc… Nonetheless, as a child of the sixties, I was completely fascinated by the space race. Like most Baby Boomers, in the build up to the Apollo Moon landings, I gobbled up all things space related.
This included such television shows as “The Jetsons”, “My Favorite Martian”, “It’s About Time”, “I Dream of Jeannie”, “Lost in Space”, and of course, “Star Trek”. (Not to be confused with “Star Wars”, which came along a full decade later.)
Still, to dream about space travel and all it entails is one thing. But to actually experience it is an entirely different matter – which is precisely what William Shatner’s experience proves.
After all, here is a man whose signature life experience was to portray the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise “boldly going where no man had ever gone before”. And yet, as exciting as the weekly installments were, they were still based solely on imagination, not actual experience.
Of course, all that changed on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. On that day, for William Shatner at least, the dream became reality. The man who had taken a thousand imaginary journeys into space was finally rewarded with the one and only genuine article.
And what was his response? In a word, “Indescribable!”
As I read the aforementioned articles, I was reminded of the thousand and one times that I, as a believer, have envisioned the moment when the Lord shall return and receive me unto Himself.
To quote a popular Christian praise and worship song, “I can only imagine” what that moment will be like. And yet, as surely as I write this blog post, I know that the time will come when my dream will become reality, when my hope will be rewarded, and when, as the Bible promises, my faith will be made sight!
Still, I do not know what all that moment will hold for me (or for you or for any and every other person who truly believes). But, along with the Apostle Paul, this much I do know. As He was led to declare in I Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 16 through 18…
16The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I have often imagined what that moment will be like. Even now, I cannot fully know this. But I am certain of one thing. When it does eventually occur, my only response will be something akin to that of William Shatner, who described his own experience of blasting off into space as simply “Indescribable!”
Oh, and one more thought... Unlike what happened to the long suffering “Captain Kirk” of “Star Trek” fame, who longed for space travel way back in the 1960s and finally who achieved it over a half century later in the 2020s, when I do blast off, I won’t be coming back to this earth!
For as the hymn writer declares: “Soon He’s coming back to welcome me, far beyond the starry sky. I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown. (And once there) I shall reign with Him (forever) on high!”