Star Trek star William Shatner made history Wednesday, becoming the oldest person to travel to space aboard a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket. The 90-year-old actor, along with three Blue Origin employees, blasted off from a launch pad in west Texas to 66 miles in the sky in a space ride that lasted about ten minutes.
Shatner’s accomplishment has drawn unexpected criticism from his celebrity circle, from Hollywood to Buckingham Palace.
In an interview with BBC aired Thursday, Prince William said he has “absolutely no interest” in going to space, largely because there’s a “fundamental question” over the carbon cost of space flights.
“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,” the Duke of Cambridge told BBC Newscast’s Adam Fleming when asked what he thought of the ongoing billionaire space race and the hype of space tourism.
“It 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 added.
Prince William gave the interview ahead of the first Earthshot Prize, named in reference to the “moonshot” ambition of 1960s America. The prize is set up to reward solutions to climate change and environmental issues.
Shatner also got roasted by his Star Trek co-star George Takei, a longtime foe, who called his former on-screen captain an “unfit guinea pig” for space tourism.
“He’s boldly going where other people have gone before,” Takei, 84, told Page Six on Wednesday after the Blue Origin crew landed. “So 90 years old is going to show a great deal more on the wear and tear on the human body, so he’ll be a good specimen to study. Although he’s not the fittest specimen of 90 years old, so he’ll be a specimen that’s unfit!”
Shatner shot back right away, Page Six reported, claiming that “there’s a psychosis there … There must be something else inside George that is festering, and it makes him unhappy that he takes it out on me…I feel nothing but pity for him.”
He also responded to Prince William’s disapproval of space tourism in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, saying that the prince “got the wrong idea.”
“The idea here is not to go, ‘Yeah, look at me. I’m in space,'” Shatner said. “The prince 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.”