William Shatner Puts in a Long Distance Call to Astronaut Aboard the International Space Station

If his goal is to be tak­en seri­ous­ly, William Shat­ner hasn’t always been his own best friend. His cov­ers of pop hits launched a whole mini-genre of unin­ten­tion­al­ly bad celebri­ty record­ings.

To his cred­it, he made fun of him­self to great effect on Boston Legal but fol­lowed that series up with a Broad­way show It’s Shatner’s World, We Just Live In It, to mixed reviews.

But the man nev­er quits. Ear­li­er this month the Cana­di­an Space Agency orga­nized a Tweet­up with Cana­di­an astro­naut Chris Had­field, who is aboard the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion orbit­ing the Earth. One space lover who par­tic­i­pat­ed was Shat­ner, who tweet­ed:

@Cmdr_Hadfield: “Are you tweet­ing from space? MBB”

A few hours lat­er Had­field, respond­ed: “Yes, Stan­dard Orbit, Cap­tain. And we’re detect­ing signs of life on the sur­face.”

Shat­ner and Had­field planned a longer con­ver­sa­tion and it was hard to say who was more thrilled by the event: Trekkies the world over, Shat­ner, or Had­field.

For about fif­teen min­utes today, with Hous­ton Mis­sion Con­trol act­ing as galac­tic switch­board oper­a­tor, the two chat­ted about the space pro­gram, the risks of liv­ing in space, and even some exis­ten­tial mat­ters.

Right off the bat, Shat­ner asked Had­field whether the fact that he had used a Russ­ian vehi­cle to get up to the space sta­tion means that Amer­i­ca is “falling behind” in its space pro­gram. The answer—long and upbeat—was, in a word, no.

Then Shat­ner asked Had­field why he’d vol­un­teered for the as-yet unsched­uled mis­sion to Mars.

“Isn’t that a fear­ful endeav­or, fraught with enor­mous dif­fi­cul­ty and dan­ger?”

“Well you’ve tak­en a lot of risks in your life as well,” Had­field replied.

He lat­er went on to say that pro­grams like Star Trek inspired him to study to become an astro­naut.

“Going to Mars is inevitable,” Had­field said, speak­ing into a float­ing, hand-held micro­phone, “just as sail­ing across the Atlantic or going to the moon. We take those visu­al­ized fan­tasies and turn them into real­i­ties.”

The view of Earth from his win­dow on the Space Sta­tion, he added, is just like the view that Sulu and Chekhov had from the Star­ship Enter­prise.

“It’s an enor­mous won­der­ful rolling Earth but all you have to do is flip your­self upside-down and the rest of the uni­verse is under you.”

By the end of their chat, Had­field had invit­ed Shat­ner to vis­it him at his cab­in and watch the satel­lites fly through the sky.

“You know those scenes in Boston Legal at the end of an episode when you were on the veran­da drink­ing a whiskey and smok­ing a cig­ar, you ought to vis­it me in North­ern Ontario. It’s a great place to talk about life.”

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Nichelle Nichols Tells Neil deGrasse Tyson How Mar­tin Luther King Con­vinced Her to Stay on Star Trek

Leonard Nimoy Nar­rates Short Film About NASA’s Dawn: A Voy­age to the Ori­gins of the Solar Sys­tem

William Shat­ner Nar­rates Space Shut­tle Doc­u­men­tary

Star Trek Celebri­ties, William Shat­ner and Wil Wheaton, Nar­rate Mars Land­ing Videos for NASA

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Vis­it her at .

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