In one fictional universe, the most famous innovator of the moment will still be remembered in the year 2254. Star Trek: Discovery name-dropped Elon Musk and sandwiched him between the Wright Brothers and the guy who invented warp drive on Sunday night.
The fourth episode of Discovery, Captain Lorca is very upset that Lieutenant Stamets can’t figure out how to make the USS Discovery’s experimental “spore drive” — which would enable the ship to essentially teleport itself to anywhere in the universe, of course — work properly. The clock is ticking and the Discovery needs to insta-warp to a human colony under attack by the Klingons. Lorca uses this moment to motivate Stamets into thinking about the big picture, telling Stamets:
How do you want to be remembered in history? Alongside the Wright Brothers? Elon Musk? Zefram Cochrane? Or as a failed fungus expert?
We all know who the Wright Brothers are: they’re generally credited with creating the first successful airplane in 1903. And in Trek’s history — as depicted in the film Star Trek: First Contact — Zephram Conchrane becomes the first human to travel faster than light in the year 2063.
So what will Elon Musk do that will put him in such illustrious company?
If captains in Starfleet consider Musk to be on par with the Wright Brothers and Cochrane, it stands to reason Musk does something that helps space colonization leap forward. And if Musk’s SpaceX gets a human to Mars by 2024, it would actually beat Trek’s history of humans getting to Mars in 2032.
In Star Trek: Voyager it was established that was the year a Mars mission of human colonists was first successful. The name of that ship was the Ares IV.
So, if Elon Musk wants to keep his reputation in the Trek history books consistent, we should be hearing about a few SpaceX projects called Ares sometime in the very near future.
Star Trek: Discovery airs on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
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