‘What a fool’: fellow actors criticise William Shatner’s space flight

Dame Joan Collins and Brian Cox unimpressed by historic trip, saying ‘let’s take care of this planet first’

The Star Trek actor William Shatner’s recent historic space flight saw him boldly go where some fellow actors refuse to follow, as the nonagenarian was labelled a “fool” for taking part in his record-breaking jaunt.

Dame Joan Collins, who once appeared in an episode of the science fiction series, and the Succession star Brian Cox, are both unimpressed by Shatner, at 90, becoming the oldest person to travel into space when earlier this month he flew in a rocket built by the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

It follows comments from the Duke of Cambridge criticising space tourism, and which forced Shatner to justify the trip, saying it was a “baby step” to getting “polluting industries … off of Earth”.

Appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV, Collins said: “It’s amazing isn’t it? What a fool. Who wants to do that? No, absolutely not. Did you see Bill Shatner?

“He was in the air and they were turning him upside down. Let’s take care of this planet first before we start going off.”

Collins appeared in an episode of the original series of Star Trek, playing a character called Edith Keeler who Captain Kirk, played by Shatner, falls in love with but then allows to die.

Asked if he would visit space, fellow show guest Cox replied: “No, absolutely not. I think it’s ridiculous. I remember watching [Sir Richard] Branson and Bezos going up for their 11 minutes or whatever …

“No, we do not need more spaceships. We’ve got enough crap flying around up there. We do not need any more.”

Shatner took off from the west Texas desert onboard the Blue Origin suborbital capsule, with his flight lasting 10 minutes. The crew got to experience a short period of weightlessness as they climbed to a maximum altitude just above 60 miles (100km). From there they were able to see the curvature of the Earth through the capsule’s windows.

“Everybody in the world needs to do this,” the Canadian actor told Bezos after landing back on Earth. “It was unbelievable.”

In tears, he added: “What you have just given me is the most profound experience. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can retain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”

After the flight, Prince William criticised the space race and burgeoning space tourism industry ahead of his inaugural Earthshot prize awards.

He said: “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.”

Shatner, in an interview with the US TV show Entertainment Tonight, responded: “He’s a lovely Englishman. He’s going to be king of England one day. He’s a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he’s got the wrong idea.

“The idea here is not to go, ‘Yeah, look at me. I’m in space’. No, I would tell the prince, and I hope the prince gets this message, this is a baby step of getting industry, all those polluting industries … off of Earth.”

Shatner was joined on the flight by Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin vice-president, Chris Boshuizen, who co founded the Earth imaging satellite company Planet, and Glen de Vries, an executive with the French software corporation Dassault Systèmes.

They were given a couple of days training, though the rocket and capsule system, known as New Shepard, is fully automatic.

Shatner was previously criticised by his Star Trek co-star George Takei, a longtime foe, who told the Page Six website: “He’s boldly going where other people have gone before.”

Bezos, who has sold $100m (£72m) of tickets for future rides and aims to dominate the fledgling space tourism industry, was onboard the maiden crewed flight of his own spaceship in July.

Shatner took the title of oldest space traveller from Wally Funk, an 82-year-old former test pilot who flew with Bezos.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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