William Shatner rebuffs Prince William over criticism of billionaires' space focus

It's more about protecting the planet than finding somewhere else to live, said Shatner.
It's more about protecting the planet than finding somewhere else to live, said Shatner. Photo credit: Getty Images

William Shatner has hit back at Prince William after the Royal heir blasted billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk for looking to space instead of solving Earth's problems.

Shatner, who at 90 became the oldest man in space aboard Bezos' Blue Origin company's New Shepard rocket last week, told Entertainment Today the prince had the "wrong idea".

That came after the Duke of Cambridge had told BBC's Newscast podcast that "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". 

That included focusing on Earth "rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future", the prince said.

But the man most famous for portraying legendary Star Trek captain James T Kirk said the focus was more about protecting the planet than finding somewhere else to live.

"He's a lovely Englishman. He's a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he's got the wrong idea," Shatner said.

"I would tell the prince this is a baby step into the idea of getting industry up there, so that all those polluting industries, for example, the industries that make electricity off of Earth.

"The idea here is not to go, 'Yeah, look at me. I'm in space'." 

Shatner, who described the Earth as "so fragile" after landing, does agree with Prince William that there should be focus on Earth's problems but said "but we can curl your hair and put lotion on your face at the same time".

Meanwhile another space billionaire, Richard Branson, won't see his Virgin Galactic spaceliner fly again this year after a new mission was cancelled.

It had been scheduled to fly members of the Italian Air Force on board the VSS Unity but that has changed after lab tests on materials planned on enhancing the Unity's carrier plane.

A test "flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints, and this requires further physical inspection" according to a company representative.

After the Italian Air Force flight, the company had planned a flight break to perform maintenance and enhancements but that had now been brought forward.

"Given the time required for this effort, the company has determined the most efficient and expedient path to commercial service is to complete this work now in parallel with the planned enhancement program."