William Shatner

As Captain Kirk on Star Trek, William Shatner became synonymous with space exploration in the 1960s — but several decades later, his family wasn't thrilled when the 90-year-old actor actually wanted to take a real-life rocket ride. In fact, they told him not to go.

Cover Images/Zuma © Provided by People Cover Images/Zuma

Speaking with PEOPLE less than 24 hours after blasting out of this world in Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin New Shepard vehicle, Shatner opens up about his ex-wife and daughters' objections to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I said, 'I gotta go. Everything's fine; don't worry about it. It's very, very safe,' " he recalls in this week's issue. "And it is! [I said] 'Don't worry. Or if you worry, know that everything is going to be fine. I am going; save your breath.' [And they said] 'But Dad, why don't you go to Australia instead?' "

Star Trek icon, 90, tells PEOPLE of his history-making mission" data-id="61" data-m='{"i":61,"p":59,"n":"openModal","t":"articleImages","o":2}'> Still, © Cover Images/Zuma Still, "There were moments when I thought, 'I wonder if maybe I am too old,' " the Star Trek icon, 90, tells PEOPLE of his history-making mission

For Shatner, the wonders Down Under couldn't compete with the promise of zero gravity. So he proceeded with the plan, which came to fruition after his friend and Better Late Than Never producer, Jason Ehrlich, floated the idea a year and a half ago.

Still, "There were moments when I thought, 'I wonder if maybe I am too old,' " he admits.

But he passed the preflight fitness routine: "It all worked out, and I wasn't too old."

RELATED: William Shatner Calls Prince William's Criticism of Space Race 'Inane': 'I'm Surprised'

CNET Highlights Blue Origin launch © Provided by People CNET Highlights Blue Origin launch

The big day finally came on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Strapped into one of the capsule's seats above Blue Origin's launchpad in West Texas, Shatner waited for liftoff alongside his three other crew members: Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; and Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata Solutions.

For more on William Shatner's record-making trip, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe

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After a few delays, "the hydrogen and the oxygen ignite, and you feel it, because you're lying down," he explains. "You feel it with your whole back, and you think, 'Oh my God, I hope it doesn't explode.' "


Video: William Shatner Gets Emotional After Historic Trip To Space (ET Canada)

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