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William Shatner says Prince William "got the wrong idea" about space tourism

William Shatner on trip to space
William Shatner on trip to space 08:08

At 90 years old, William Shatner became the oldest person to travel to space on Wednesday, taking a Blue Origin flight to the edge of space with three other passengers. Now the traveler is responding to critical comments by another, more royal, William. 

"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," said Prince William, in an interview with BBC this week. He did not name the billionaires in the space race, which include Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos.

"I think that ultimately is what sold it for me – that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future," the Duke of Cambridge said. 

William Shatner and Jeff Bezos
William Shatner speaks about his flight to space as Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos listens, moments after Shatner and his crewmates touched down at the landing site in West Texas, on October 13, 2021. Blue Origin/CBS News

Not only is Amazon's Jeff Bezos working to commercialize space flights, but Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson and Space X's Elon Musk also entered the space tourism race with similar passenger flights this year. 

Entertainment Tonight's Nischelle Turner spoke to Shatner after his Blue Origin flight and asked about the prince's comments. "He's a lovely Englishman. He's going to be king of England one day," Shatner said. "He's a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he's got the wrong idea."

Prince William, a father of three, also said space tourism raises the "fundamental question" over the carbon cost of space flights and he has "absolutely no interest" in going to space.

Shatner, who played space dweller Captain Kirk on "Star Trek" took the Blue Origin flight with Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen, microbiologist Glen de Vries and Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers. 

Like Blue Origin's first passenger flight this year, which Bezos was on, those on board got a few minutes of weightlessness during the less than 11 minute flight.

Shatner said the journey was not about finding a place outside of Earth to inhabit, but one that looks to protect our planet.

"The idea here is not to go, 'Yeah, look at me. I'm in space,'" he told ET. "The landing that consumed all that... energy and people to take a look and go, 'Oh, look at that.' No." 

"I would tell the prince, and I hope the prince gets the message, this is a baby step into the idea of getting industry up there, so that all those polluting industries, especially, for example, the industries that make electricity... off of Earth," Shatner said. 

The actor said we have the technology to send the things to space, and we could "build a base 250, 280 miles above the Earth and send that power down here, and they catch it, and they then use it, and it's there." 

"All it needs is... somebody as rich as Jeff Bezos [to say], 'Let's go up there,'" he said, adding that Prince William is "missing the point."

"The point is these are the baby steps to show people [that] it's very practical. You can send somebody like me up into space," he said. Shatner did say, however, that he agrees with Prince William that there are issues to address on Earth, "but we can curl your hair and put lotion on your face at the same time."

Shatner said the flight was not a "religious experience" as some people liken it to, but is overwhelming, like holding your child for the first time. 

"You hold the baby and it's magical. It's so overwhelming. How am I going to protect this child?" he said. "You're flooded with the responsibility and need to take care of [the child] and how you're going to do it. That's an overwhelming experience, and I had that experience."

As for being the oldest person ever in space, Shatner said he "can't stand" being reminded of that fact. "It reminded me of the death facing me because of my age... But also how to protect you in the years to come, and my children, and my children's children," he said. "That's what's critical."

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