CNN Business caught up with the ‘Star Trek’ legend in a full interview this week. Here is a short summary.
“There’s Mother Earth and comfort, and then there’s … death,” he said at the time.
After the flight, he couldn’t stop crying, he said in an interview with CNN Business this week.
“It took me hours to understand what it was that made me cry,” he said. “I realized I was in mourning. I mourned the destruction of the earth.”
Shatner said he was deeply impressed by Silent Spring, biologist Rachel Carson’s 1962 book on environmental protection.
What he thinks about billionaires in space
Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin – run by two of the richest men in the world – are often the target of criticism. Can space exploration, paved by the rich few, ever produce the kind of egalitarianism that Star Trek extols?
“That defeats the whole idea here,” Shatner said. “The whole idea is to get people used to space, like going to the Riviera. It’s not vanity. It’s a business.”
Why send a software developer into space?
Shatner said he jumped on board with the idea because he wanted “problem solvers” to experience a transformative high-altitude ride just like him.
“I want to get [these coders] interested in developing the financial world, but then you’re like, ‘Why don’t you focus on carbon capture or, you know, one of the big issues? Hunger? Poverty?’” Shatner said.
Shatner’s dinner with Stephen Hawking
Shatner said he has a new fascination with string theory — a popular idea that tries to explain quantum physics, or how subatomic particles behave, and how it fits with more easily observable scientific ideas like gravity.
“I could never ask him that question” about string theory, Shatner recalled. “But he said when we made that agreement, ‘I want to ask Shatner a question.’ I’m leaning in, you know, we’re sitting side by side and looking at the cameras… and he laboriously typed in, ‘What’s your favorite episode?'”
Shatner, for the record, does not have a favorite episode of Star Trek and has not responded to it. But Hawking invited him to dinner anyway.
“What are you doing? At dinner? With someone who can’t speak?” Shatner laughed. “But I had a nice moment with him.”
For the curious, Shatner also summarizes his thoughts on string theory, which posits that everything in the universe is made up of vibrating strings at its most basic level: “I think that vibrating with the universe is what connects us.”