Life imitates science fiction: 'Capt. Kirk' actor chats with outer space

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LONGUEUIL, Que. - There was a surreal moment in outer space this morning, as the man who played Captain James T. Kirk chatted with a real-life astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

William Shatner, the Canadian-born actor of "Star Trek" fame, spoke for a few minutes with Chris Hadfield, who is currently on a five-month space voyage.

The actor asked serious questions about Hadfield's hopes for space travel, as well as his fears, and the emotions he felt as he stared out from beyond Earth.

They also exchanged a few jokes.

Shatner quipped that if he flopped while performing, the worst thing that could happen is he might sweat a little bit. "In your case," he told Hadfield, "you burn up."

He also asked Hadfield how he felt, being away from his home planet for so long. That prompted a philosophical reply from the astronaut about how far humanity has come since the original "Star Trek" era.

Hadfield responded that in the 1960s, having a phone chat with someone in outer space was the stuff of science fiction. Today, Hadfield said, it's a reality and it helps make astronauts feel more closely connected to loved ones back home.

The actor concluded by expressing regret that time had run out, and suggesting they continue their chat over whiskey and a cigar back on Earth.

The Montreal-born Shatner was in Los Angeles, and Hadfield was visible on a video link that was broadcast on the Canadian Space Agency's website.

Hadfield was also taking questions today from 30 space enthusiasts who were joined by astronaut Jeremy Hansen at the agency, in suburban Montreal.

Hadfield is on a five-month space mission and has been beaming back photos of the Earth on a daily basis.

In mid-March, he will become the first Canadian to command the orbiting space laboratory.

Organizations: International Space Station, Canadian Space Agency

Geographic location: Montreal, Los Angeles

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