For 50 years, Star Trek and NASA’s stories have been intertwined. William Shatner’s Captain Kirk name-checked the Apollo astronauts as Earth’s first great space pioneers in the original series — made even before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. A massive fan campaign in the late 1970s led NASA to name its prototype space shuttle Enterprise, which, in an all-time great paradox, was retroactively made one of the namesakes for the starship. And, more deeply, countless NASA scientists have been inspired by the future visions of Star Trek, while Star Trek has often incorporated NASA’s latest findings and knowledge into the shows.
That symbiotic relationship has driven the various NASA panels at this weekend’s Star Trek: Mission New York event, and it’s also the guiding idea behind this video screened at one of the panels. As the astronauts and scientists explain in the video — with assists from stars William Shatner and Walter Koenig — they still have a ways to go until their space exploration can stand alongside the voyages of the starship Enterprise — but Star Trek has offered one heck of an inspiration as we take our first tentative steps into the final frontier.