CNN Business caught up with the “Star Trek” legend this week in a wide-ranging interview. Here’s a quick recap.
“There is Mother Earth and comfort, and then there is … death,” he said at the time.
After the flight, he could not stop crying, he said in an interview with CNN Business this week.
“It took me hours to understand what it was, why I was weeping,” he said. “I realized I was in grief. I was grieving for the destruction of the Earth.”
Shatner said he was profoundly impacted by “Silent Spring,” the 1962 book about environmentalism by biologist Rachel Carson.
What he thinks about billionaires in space
Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin – helmed by two of the richest men in the world – are often the target of criticism. Can space exploration paved by the wealthy few ever bring about the type of egalitarianism vaunted by “Star Trek”?
“That’s missing the whole idea here,” Shatner said. “The whole idea is to get people accustomed to space, like going to the Riviera. It’s not a vanity. It’s a business.”
Why send a software developer to space?
Shatner said he jumped on board with the idea because he wanted “problem solvers” to experience a transformative, high-altitude joy ride just as he did.
“I want to get [these coders] interested in developing the financial community, but then saying, ‘Why don’t you guys put your minds to carbon capture or, you know, any of the great problems? Hunger? Poverty? ‘”Shatner said.
Shatner’s dinner with Stephen Hawking
Shatner said he has a new fascination with string theory – a popular idea that attempts to explain quantum physics, or how subatomic particles behave, and how it fits together with more easily observable scientific ideas, like gravity.
“I was never able to ask him that question” about string theory, Shatner recalled. “But he had said when we made this arrangement, ‘I want to ask Shatner a question.’ I’m leaning in, you know, we’re sitting side by side looking at the cameras … and he laboriously typed out: ‘What is your favorite episode?’ “
Shatner, for the record, does not have a favorite “Star Trek” episode and did not give an answer. But Hawking invited him to nonetheless dinner.
“What do you do? At dinner? With somebody who can not talk?” Shatner laughed. “But I had a beautiful moment with him.”
For those curious, Shatner also summed up his musings about string theory, which posits that everything in the universe is, at its most basic level, composed of vibrating strings: “I think we are in vibration with the universe. It’s a matter of connecting ourselves. “