Today, at the age of 90, actor William Shatner became the oldest person to travel in space on the New Shepard capsule of the private space company Blue Origin. His post-launch commentary on the transformational experience of private space tourism could make him one of the most compelling proponents of private space tourism.
Captain James T. Star TrekWithin moments after Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos set foot at Terra Pharma in the West Texas Desert. “Sapphire below and black there. There’s mother and earth there’s comfort and there’s, is there death? I don’t know. Is death so? It was so dynamic.”
This short 10-minute flight takes the shutters and three crew members 66 miles above the surface of the planet, or the “Kerman Line” that marks the boundary between the Earth’s “atmosphere and space.”
Shutter’s past image of space-distant Kirk clearly transforms his journey into space into a fantasy today. Advances in space technology also clearly show the launch because he was just pretending to explore the stars.
When Star Trek First launched in the late 1960s, space travel was the exclusive field of highly trained professional astronauts who travel on rockets and funded by the two superpowers’ massive government space programs that essentially complement their nuclear weapons competition with a propaganda victory.
Fast-forward today, where Shutter’s Blue Origin flight launches to set the latest milestone in a growing private space tourism industry.
Last month, Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent the first all-civilian crew into orbit for a three-day, privately funded mission. It follows last year’s company’s successful Crew Dragon mission, which took two NASA astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time in more than a decade.
Earlier this summer, both Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic performed their first human flight into space (or substantially) with their billionaire founders.
Those subsequent flights drew sharp criticism from progressives who lamented the sad reality where billionaires spent their money pushing the envelope of space technology instead of improving the lives of ordinary people here on Earth. They said the funds would be confiscated through wealth taxes and turned into ground government bureaucracies dedicated to real-world health and education problems.
It is true that space travel has not yet become a reality for ordinary people. At the moment, this is only an option for the super-rich, lightly famous and a few lucky lottery winners. The same can be said for the initial repetition of many innovations, from automobiles to smartphones that are now annoyingly common.
Innovations born out of a capitalist process of innovation and competition have made all these things ubiquitous features of modern life for both the rich and the poor. With adequate time and low taxes, space flight is expected to be an equally accessible activity.
Critics can still ridicule that all this time and investment will only transform the vanity projects of billionaires into a glorious entertainment ride for the less wealthy. But Shutter’s own post-launch comments suggest that even his brief journey into space was much more than just a fun adventure.
“Everyone in the world needs to do this,” he told Bezos, “what you gave me is the deepest experience I can imagine. I am overwhelmed with emotion about what happened. I hope I don’t get over it. I hope I can maintain what I am feeling now. “