kottke.org posts about Blue Origin

Captain Kirk Goes to Space: "It's Indescribable"

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2021

Last week, William Shatner finally got a chance to boldly go where he hadn't actually been before: into space. And upon returning from the 11-minute flight, the 90-year-old TV spaceship captain had come down with more than a touch of the Overview Effect. From the transcript of his post-flight remarks:

If.... Everybody in the world needs to do this...

Everybody in the world needs to see the..." (begins to cry) "...It was unbelievable, unbelievable. I mean, you know the little things... weightlessness... to see the blue color just.. go WHIP by!!! And now you're staring into blackness. That's the thing... the covering of blue... this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue that we have around us. We think, 'Oh, that's blue the sky!'

And then suddenly you shoot up through it all of the sudden... as if you whip off the sheet off you when you are asleep and you're looking into blackness. Into BLACK UGLINESS... And you look down and there's the blue down there... and the black up there and it's... it's just... there is Mother Earth... and comfort... and there is ....is there death? I don't know! Is that death? Is that the way death is?? WOOP, and it's gone! Jesus...

It was so moving to me... this experience ...it's something unbelievable. You see it... yeah, you know... weightlessness... my stomach went up and I thought, 'God, this is so weird...' but not as weird as the covering of blue... this is what I never expected. Oh, it's one thing to say, 'Oh... the sky and the thing and the... gradual...' It's all true... but what isn't true... what is unknown until you do it is... is this pillow.. There's this soft blue... look at the the beauty of that color! And it's so THIN! And you're through it in an instant...

He continued:

I don't know, I can't even begin to express what I ...what I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible ... the jeopardy... the the the moment you see how... The vulnerability of everything, it's so... small. This AIR which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin! It's... it's a... it's a sliver! It's immeasurably small when you think in terms of the Universe! It's negligible! This air... Mars doesn't have it! No... nothing... I mean, this...

They should have sent a poet. Jokes aside, I'm sure that if I'd just returned from a flight into space, I'd would be equally flummoxed and unable to articulate what I'd just experienced. Hell, I couldn't even talk after seeing a solar eclipse.

Bezos' rocket achieves controlled landing back on Earth

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2015

A rocket built by Blue Origin, an aerospace company backed by Jeff Bezos, recently reached space and executed a controlled landing back on Earth, which allows it to be used again. Bezos himself joined Twitter1 this morning to announce the news. Elon Musk, whose SpaceX company has been trying (and failing) to do something similar lately, congratulated Bezos and his team on Twitter2 but also threw a little shade on BO's efforts to reach "space" vs. SpaceX's efforts to reach "orbit".

It is, however, important to clear up the difference between "space" and "orbit", as described well by https://what-if.xkcd.com/58/. Getting to space needs ~Mach 3, but GTO orbit requires ~Mach 30. The energy needed is the square, i.e. 9 units for space and 900 for orbit.

Welcome to Twitter, Jeff.

  1. I like his bio: "Amazon, Blue Origin, Washington Post".

  2. Musk's bio reads: "Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity & PayPal". Oh, these boys and their toys.