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William Shatner's fear of flying keeps him off Virgin Galactic?

Richard Branson tells a newspaper that the original James T. Kirk refused an invitation to fly on Virgin Galactic because he's scared of flying.

Does this man look scared of flying to you?
MrLeSpock/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's like accusing Peyton Manning of being scared of football.

It's like accusing William Shakespeare of being scared of drama.

It's like accusing Miley Cyrus of being scared of publicity.

What has stretched my credulity beyond its normal, troubling limits and made my ears go extremely pointy?

Why, it's that Richard Branson, the man behind Virgin Galactic, has accused Captain James T. Kirk of being scared of flying.

Please forgive me, but Branson's attempts to boldly go where no man has gone before pale in comparison to the great captain's.

And yet he felt bold enough to tell the Sun newspaper that William Shatner has rejected an invitation to fly on Virgin Galactic.

According to the Daily Mail, Branson explained: "He actually said he's frightened of airline travel, which is slightly disillusioning. Captain Kirk is scared of flying."

The sheer effrontery. Shatner should surely challenge Branson to a duel.

Still, as with many a meanness, this one might have its roots in money.

For Shatner told the Mail: "He wanted me to go up and pay for it and I said: 'Hey, you pay me and I'll go up. I'll risk my life for a large sum of money.' But he didn't pick me up on my offer."

Some celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher have already paid $200,000 to be among the first to be launched into (shallow) space.

Shatner, though, might suspect that with him on a Virgin Galactic flight, Branson would reap enormous publicity -- something at which the bearded Brit has proved very adept over the years.

You'll never guess what the Virgin Galactic spaceship is actually called.

Go on, I can wait. It won't take long.

Yes, it's the VSS Enterprise.

Well, I never. And neither, it seems, will Shatner.