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Screengrab via NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center / Youtube

NASA pays homage to ‘Star Trek’ on its 50th anniversary for inspiring a generation of astronauts

To boldly go.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 8, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 1:41 am CDT

By the 23rd century, the world that Star Trek inhibited was one of peace and exploration that was centuries in the making, but it ended up inspiring the astronauts and scientists who may help one day to make Stark Trek a reality.

In honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, space agencies and those who work for them are paying homage to the show that showed exploring the Final Frontier was possible.

To mark the occasion, NASA replaced the International Space Station icon with the U.S.S. Enterprise as Mission Control tracks its location around the globe.

NASA and Star Trek have been intricately linked since the latter’s inception, and the cast is still astounded with what has been accomplished in space exploration.

“All these imaginative exercises in science fiction is merely food for the imagination of scientists who are actually working with technology that is,” William Shatner said.

The space agency particularly credits Nichelle Nichols and George Takei for helping recruit and inspire people of color to join at a time when their roles on TV weren’t just a rare multi-dimensional role but were vital. Nichols, in particular, recalled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. telling her she couldn’t quit Star Trek because she had become a symbol; she not only inspired other astronauts like Mae Jemison but an entire generation of actresses.

Star Trek was a story of incredible wonder and scientific marvel, but it wasn’t the only thing the show made them strive for.

“For me, it wasn’t only a vision of the diversity of worlds and life that might be out there that drew me in,” Aki Roberge, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said. “It was also Star Trek’s vision of how humanity itself is changed by the exploration of space and then by meeting others who are genuinely, fundamentally different from ourselves. The Star Trek vision is a very optimistic, sunny vision of humanity at peace with itself, and with a greater appreciation for—and a greater value placed on—personal development and satisfaction in your work.”

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*First Published: Sep 8, 2016, 7:13 pm CDT