- Blue Origin astronauts agreed with William Shatner’s feelings of grief after flying into space.
- The Star Trek actor said his Blue Origin spaceflight felt like a funeral and all he saw was sadness.
- Sharon and Marc Hagle said they also experienced intense emotions during and after the flight.
Two astronauts who flew with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin echoed William Shatner’s thoughts about how space trips can trigger feelings of grief and sadness.
The “Star Trek” actor wrote in his new book, “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder,” which was published this month, that his spaceflight with Blue Origin in October 2021 “felt like a funeral” and all he saw was sadness.
It’s not the first time that Shatner has expressed the emotions he experienced from the journey. After landing on the ground, he told Bezos he hoped he never recovered from the experience, and previously told CNN he couldn’t stop crying after the spaceflight.
In agreement with the 91-year-old actor are Sharon and Marc Hagle, the first married couple to fly into space on a commercial vehicle.
The Hagles, both 73, were two of six passengers on Blue Origin’s 20th trip to the edge of space on March 31. They plan to launch again soon with Bezos’ rocket company.
Sharon, CEO of nonprofit SpaceKids Global, and her husband Marc, CEO of property development corporation Tricor International, told Insider how emotional they found their first spaceflight.
“The blackness of space was very opaque. You couldn’t see through it. There was no reflection, no stars, nothing,” said Sharon, who said she related to Shatner’s experience. “For me it was like you were on one side of a wall, which was the light, and you wouldn’t be able to pass through that darkness unless you had passed.”
Shatner wrote in his book that space was a “cold, dark, black emptiness” and its contrast with the Earth filled him with “overwhelming sadness.”
What the Hagles and Shatner experienced can be called the “overview effect” – a cognitive shift that astronauts can experience while viewing Earth from space.
After the capsule returned to Earth, the Blue Origin team weren’t allowed to open the hatch door until the astronauts inside gave them the thumbs up because they had to gather themselves before stepping out in front of the media, Sharon said.
“We truly feel that once you’re looking back at it, I think it has a tremendous impact on you and your soul that when you do come back to Earth, you have a responsibility to make the world a better place,” Marc said.
Everybody has their own takeaway and emotional experiences based on their lives on Earth, Marc added: “Even now, we’re tearing up.”
Sharon said it has taken months to process what they saw from the capsule’s window. Three days after launching with Blue Origin, the couple went to watch a rocket launch together. “Marc and I just looked at each other and burst into tears,” Sharon told Insider.
For their second Blue Origin flight, a date for which is yet to be confirmed, the Hagles plan to look out of the same window and point things out to each other when they reach zero-gravity.
“What we learned is you’re so excited about what’s going on and what you’re looking at that the human brain just can’t absorb it all,” Marc said.