Cable, Broadcast Cover Shatner Space Flight

William Shatner leads astronauts and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft.
William Shatner leads astronauts and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft. (Image credit: Blue Origin/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Cable networks including CNN and Fox News Channel, joined by CBS, NBC, and ABC, trained their cameras and their coverage on the stars Wednesday (Oct. 13) with extensive coverage on cable and special reports on the broadcast networks as Blue Origin sent another star, William Shatner, into space.

Shatner, who at 90 is the oldest person ever to go to space, returned with some eloquent observations, obviously moved, talking about how briefly he saw the beautiful blue of the sky before everything became black. The 90-year-old actor, famous for captaining the U.S.S. Enterprise, TV's most iconic starship, through the original Star Trek‘s make-believe galaxy on NBC and in syndication, pondered whether his rocketing from light into darkness, from the thin blue blanket of atmosphere to the darkness of space, was what death might be like.

CNN’s Miles O’Brien, obviously moved himself by Shatner's description, pointed out that was one of the reasons he has advocated for sending people other than trained scientists — like poets, artists, actors or journalists.

Blue Origin

William Shatner tweeted this mashup of the Blue Origin logo and Star Trek Starfleet insignia. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

O‘Brien had gotten NASA to agree to let him become the first journalist in space aboard the Space Shuttle, but that was obviated by the 2003 loss of the shuttle Columbia and crew.

CNN noted that as Shatner was about to tell Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos what he found so surprising about the flight, Bezos moved off to grab a bottle of champagne so he could participate in a shake-and-spray celebration before returning to Shatner. After that, there was a touching moment when Shatner thanked him for the opportunity.

Before the flight, Shatner had tweeted a graphic of the Blue Origin feather logo superimposed on the Starfleet emblem from Star Trek, with the poetic message: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, diverting myself in now & then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

A post-flight Shatner called it a profound experience and a feeling he did not want to lose.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.